Florida Record

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Business group questions need for biometric privacy legislation, speculates it's lawyer-driven


By Chris Adams | Aug 19, 2019

New interpretations of workplace biometric privacy laws are leaning in favor of plaintiffs and attorneys. | Rachmaninoff; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

Calls for biometric privacy legislation are increasing in Florida, leading some observers to speculate that it is lawyer-driven rather than based on concerns from "Joe Citizen."

“This is mining by trial lawyers, and the purpose is to create that cause of action," said Bill Herrle, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Senate Bill 1270, introduced during the last legislative session, sought to establish restrictions and requirements for private entities in their use, maintenance and collection of biometric information and identifiers. Though the legislation died in session, it brought up the issue of whether biometric violations against employees are legitimate.

The failed Florida bill came on the heels of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp., which gave a new interpretation to the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA).

“The Illinois Supreme Court unanimously held that an individual need not allege some actual injury or adverse effect, beyond violation of his or her rights under BIPA, in order to qualify as an ‘aggrieved’ person and be entitled to bring private action under the Act,” reported the Harvard Journal of Law & Technology.

Some believe if Florida passes legislation similar to BIPA it could stimulate a flurry of private rights of action suits in the Sunshine State, which some argue benefit lawyers more than the individuals who claim in lawsuits that their privacy has been compromised. 

“You don’t see – not that I’m recommending this – you don’t see legislation making (biometrics privacy violations) criminal,” Herrle said. “Not even a misdemeanor, do you? You see this as creating a new reason to litigate.”

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