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Latest Illinois Case Shows Risk in Using Biometric Data


A lawsuit filed last month in Illinois against the retailer Target for its use of facial recognition technology illustrates the potential liability for franchises, points out Dawn Johnson, attorney at Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale.

Companies may be using this facial recognition technology for threat-prevention (and/or security) reasons, she wrote as an update to our previous conversation, which will be featured in the February issue of Franchise Times. “The plaintiffs here claim that their face was captured by multiple cameras in the store, so they will likely claim that each scan was a violation.  

“With statutory damages up to $5,000 per violation, you can see how this can get very expensive and probably bankrupt some companies (similar to what the TCPA has done),” she wrote, referring to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

“Target is only the latest big-box retailer to be sued.  This reinforces the importance of making sure you comply with laws before installing these types of systems for whatever purpose you are using them,” she advised.

She noted “the huge increase in lawsuits” during the last year, primarily in Illinois, over the use of biometrics, such as facial scans, fingerprints and eye scans. “I get notices every day of lawsuits that are filed in Illinois, and every day there’s one more of these cases that are popping up,” she said. “That’s the scary part really for businesses, if you’re not using the information correctly, or not following the statutes that apply to you, with notice and consent.”

Illinois has had a law on the books since 2008 governing the use of biometric data, but it gained new life in 2019 after a state supreme court decision. In January, the California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect, and that will lead to more lawsuits and likely copycat legislation around the United States, franchise attorneys say.


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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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