Walgreen Company faces a proposed class action that claims the pharmacy chain has overstepped an Illinois privacy law by collecting and storing scans of customers’ faces via cameras equipped with facial recognition technology.
According to the lawsuit out of Illinois state court, the defendant has failed to disclose to customers that their biometric information—i.e., scans of their facial geometry—is being collected and stored, and never obtained shoppers’ written consent to collect, store and use the sensitive information despite the plain requirements of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to do so.
“Notwithstanding the clear and unequivocal requirements of the law, Defendant knowingly disregards Plaintiff’s and other similarly situated consumers’, employees’, and others’ (‘visitors’’) statutorily protected privacy rights and unlawfully collect, store, disseminate, and use Plaintiff’s and other similarly situated visitors’ biometric data in violation of BIPA,” the complaint alleges.
The plaintiff, who says he frequently shops at one of the defendant’s 583 drugstores in Illinois and sporadically shops at another Walgreens location in the area, says he entered the 2 N. State Street store in Chicago on September 23, 2020 and noticed Walgreens had been collecting scans of his facial geometry via cameras equipped with facial recognition technology. Per the complaint, the man observed similar facial recognition devices at the defendant’s 151 N. State Street drugstore, also in Chicago, at which he sometimes shopped.
The lawsuit alleges Walgreens uses facial recognition devices at all of its locations throughout Illinois and scans customers’ faces through cameras placed at the entrance and exit of each location, ostensibly to track, identify and prosecute perceived shoplifters.
The problem, according to the suit, is that Walgreens has never disclosed its biometric data collection practices to customers or obtained authorization to collect and store their sensitive biometric identifiers.
More specifically, the case alleges Walgreens overstepped the Illinois BIPA by failing to:
Properly inform customers in writing that their biometric identifiers were being collected or stored;
Properly inform customers in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their facial scans or other biometric identifiers were being collected, stored or used;
Publish a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for the permanent destruction of customers’ biometric data;
Obtain a written release from customers to “collect, capture, or otherwise obtain” their facial scans; and
Obtain customers’ consent to disclose, redisclose or otherwise disseminate their facial scans or other biometric identifiers to a third party.
Walgreens’ biometric data collection practices have exposed customers to a heightened risk of identity theft and fraud given biometric identifiers cannot be changed if compromised, the suit argues.
“As a result of Defendant’s conduct, Plaintiff and the putative Class lost the right to control the collection, use, and storage of their biometric identifiers and information and were exposed to ongoing, serious, and irreversible privacy risks—simply by going to the stores to pick up prescriptions, to shop, or going to work,” the complaint scathes.
The plaintiff says he was unaware that Walgreens had collected and stored scans of his facial geometry and never would have consented to the practice, which he argues has exposed him to incalculable privacy risks, had he known the truth.
“No amount of time or money can compensate Plaintiff if his biometric data has been compromised by the intentional, reckless, and/or negligent procedures through which Defendant captures, stores, uses, and disseminates his and the putative Class’s biometric data,” the lawsuit reads. “Moreover, Plaintiff would not have provided his biometric data to Defendant if he had known Defendant would retain such information for an indefinite period of time without his consent.”
The lawsuit against Walgreens follows on the heels of several other proposed class action lawsuits—including cases filed against Home Depot, Kroger, and severalIllinoiscasino operators—in which customers claim their facial scans were secretly collected and stored.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s newsletter here.
Hair Relaxer Lawsuits
Women who developed cancer, endometriosis or reproductive problems after using hair relaxers such as Dark & Lovely and Motions may now have an opportunity to take legal action.