Illinois residents who had their passport photos taken at Walgreens
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are looking into whether Walgreens illegally collected and stored facial scans of people who had their passport photos taken at one of its stores.
What’s This Privacy Law About?
The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) requires companies to provide certain disclosures and obtain consent from state residents before collecting their biometric information, including scans of their faces.
How Could a Lawsuit Help?
A class action lawsuit filed under the Illinois BIPA has the potential to provide $1,000 per violation, and even up to $5,000 in cases where the company intentionally or recklessly broke the law.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether Walgreens violated an Illinois privacy law by collecting and storing the facial scans of customers who used its passport photo service.
Under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), companies must meet certain requirements before collecting consumers’ biometric information, including scans of their facial geometry. A class action lawsuit filed against Walgreens under the Illinois BIPA could potentially provide up to $1,000 per violation, or even more if the pharmacy chain is found to have acted recklessly or intentionally.
What Is the Illinois BIPA?
The Illinois BIPA is a state-specific law passed in 2008 that regulates how companies use residents’ “biometric identifiers,” a category of personal information that includes fingerprints, voiceprints, iris and retina scans, and scans of hand and face geometry.
Illinois legislators recognized that biometrics—which are now becoming more widely used as a means to verify a person’s identity—are more sensitive than other types of personal information (such as a Social Security number, for example) since they cannot be changed if they become compromised.
The Illinois BIPA aims to provide an extra layer of protection for residents’ biometric information by mandating that companies are not allowed to collect, capture, purchase, or otherwise obtain a person’s biometrics unless they first:
Inform the individual in writing that their biometric identifiers are being collected or stored
Explain in writing why and for how long the person’s information is being collected, stored or used
Obtain a written release from the individual to collect and store their biometrics
The company must also develop and publish a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines outlining how and when it will destroy the biometric information.
Attorneys are now investigating whether Walgreens collected Illinois residents’ biometrics through its passport photo service and, if so, whether it followed the Illinois BIPA’s requirements.
Have Other BIPA Lawsuits Been Filed Over Facial Scans?
Yes. Dozens of other companies, from the likes of Microsoft and YouTube to Estée Lauder and Giorgio Armani, have been hit with BIPA lawsuits over claims that they violated consumers’ privacy by collecting scans of their faces from photos without providing the required disclosures and obtaining consent.
Every case is different, but some BIPA cases have settled for substantial amounts over the past year—including a Google Photos lawsuit that’s estimated to provide $142 per claim, a case against TikTok that settled for $92 million, and a Facebook BIPA settlement that paid out at least $345 per claim.
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
A successful Illinois BIPA lawsuit has the potential to provide $1,000—or up to $5,000 in some cases—per violation. A lawsuit could also force Walgreens to come into compliance with the state privacy law.