Biometric privacy law needs updating to keep Illinois on technology’s cutting edge

Illinois, home to the university that developed the first web browser, has always been on the cutting edge of technology. But our state risks being left behind due to an outdated privacy law preventing businesses large and small from moving into smarter and better ways that make Illinois a safer, more prosperous place to work and live.

So we were surprised when we a current editorial Oppose reasonable updates to the Biometric Privacy and Information Act of Illinois. First introduced in 2008 when the BlackBerry was considered cutting-edge, it has been a lifetime of technological advances since then. Today, the law often results in unintended consequences that hamper business operations, expose employers to frivolous lawsuits, and prevent innovative products from entering the Illinois market.

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We propose two sensible updates. First, a security exemption should be made to allow some biometric information to be used for purposes such as screening employees in secure manufacturing facilities that produce energy, food and medicines in our country, and restricting access to nursing homes and assisted living facilities which residents are at risk, used to fraud or abuse. This would be in line with Washington State, the most recent state to pass a biometric privacy law in 2017 in which officials recognized the need for security-related use of the technology.

Second, lawmakers should introduce a “notice and grace period” that would protect employers from lawyers who abuse the law at gunpoint by filing expensive class actions against small and medium-sized businesses that are doing their best to ensure safe jobs . This “notice and grace period” enables companies to address potential problems while avoiding unnecessary legal fees and ensuring compliance, especially when no actual economic damage has occurred.

To be clear: These changes do not have to be at the expense of data protection. It is already illegal to sell or trade biometric information, and no one is proposing to undermine that policy. But as technology advances, our laws must do the same to balance consumer protection with businesses’ ability to innovate, grow and employ people.

Mark Denzler, President and CEO, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association
Rob Karr, President and CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association
Jack Lavin, President and CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce

Children as chess pieces?

Do parents and private school teachers here in Chicago care less about their students than CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union? After all, the private schools are open and teachers are showing up. Same question for the children in the majority, maybe 99%, of schools across the country that are not closed.

Or do the teachers and the union in all the other schools not use the children they care about as pawns?

Shawn Jenkins, behind the yards