As state Supreme Court weighs another BIPA lawsuit, lawmakers mull child data privacy framework

As state Supreme Court weighs another BIPA lawsuit, lawmakers mull child data privacy framework

By ANDREW ADAMS
Capitol News Illinois
aadams@capitolnewsillinois.com

In Springfield on Thursday, the medical industry went to court.

The Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a pair of class action suits brought by two suburban nurses, Lucille Mosby and Yana Mazya, who allege their employers violated the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, a landmark 2008 law that gives Illinois residents the ability to sue companies that misuse biometric data, such as fingerprints or facial scans.

It’s the same act that formed the basis of several high-profile lawsuits that have led to massive penalties or settlements, such as the $650 million Facebook agreed to pay its Illinois users after it was alleged to have misused biometric data.

READ MORE: Court rulings supercharge Illinois’ strongest-in-nation biometric privacy law

The nurses allege that, by requiring the use of fingerprint scanners to open medicine cabinets, Northwestern Medicine, UChicago Medicine and Becton, Dickinson and Co. – the company that makes the medicine cabinets – violated BIPA.

According to court filings, the hospital systems did not collect written releases allowing them to use the fingerprint data, nor did the hospitals provide information about how the biometrics would be stored or eventually destroyed. They also failed to obtain consent to disclose the fingerprint data to third-party vendors that host it. 

But lawyers for the defendants argued the use of biometrics to manage medicine falls under an exemption to the law because it counts as, in the words of BIPA, “health care treatment, payment, or operations under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”

The exact wording of the law, and the definition of “under,” faced scrutiny from lawyers on both sides of the case as they argued about the intersection of BIPA and the federal HIPAA law.

“If the defendant is correct, that means the General Assembly decided that as much as 10 percent of the Illinois workforce should have no biometric privacy protection whatsoever, simply by virtue of working in the health care field,” the nurses’ attorney, Jim Zouras, told the court Thursday.

Beyond the specifics of the case, the hospitals’ lawyers also focused on its potential industrywide impact. In their legal brief filed ahead of arguments, they said health care providers would potentially face “catastrophic liability.”

In a February decision against fast food chain White Castle, the Supreme Court ruled that each separate violation of BIPA – meaning every time the company required an employee to sign in using biometric data – represented a separate violation of the law. With penalties of $1,000 or $5,000 per violation included in BIPA, White Castle estimated the ruling could eventually cost the company $17 billion.

That level of liability could be disastrous if applied to the medical community, the defendants argued.

“Biometrics are industry standard at this point,” Matt Wolfe, a lawyer for BD, told the justices Thursday. “Over the last 15 years, this type of technology has become extremely widely used in the health care setting.”

A lower court agreed with the nurses in 2022, with Justice Sharon Oden Johnson of the First District Appellate Court writing lawmakers “did not exclude health-care employee biometric information” from BIPA protections.

The case has drawn the attention of both the wider medical industry and the business community.

Several major advocacy and trade groups filed amicus briefs in the case, generally supporting the exclusion of health care workers from BIPA protections. These include the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, the Advanced Medical Technology Association and a coalition of private hospitals including Springfield-based Memorial Health, Northshore University Health System and Rush University System for Health in the Chicago area.

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce also filed briefs warning of potential “annihilative liability” for hospitals if the court rules in the nurses’ favor, referencing a line from a dissent written by Justice David Overstreet in the White Castle case.

While most of the amicus briefs supported the hospitals’ arguments, the American Nurses Association filed an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs.

“To exempt hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers from coverage without explicit language from the legislature to that effect would be contrary to BIPA’s purpose,” the organization’s lawyers wrote in their brief.  

The justices will now take the arguments into consideration, although there is no timetable for a decision being filed.

 

Lawmakers consider broader framework

While the high court considers the state’s existing privacy regulations, lawmakers are thinking about broader privacy frameworks. A Senate committee met in Chicago on Tuesday to discuss an unrelated proposal that would create a framework for data privacy focused on strengthening protections for minors online.

The hearing, held by the Senate Judiciary Committee, was to discuss a proposal from Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, to implement an “age-appropriate design code.” The proposed policy would require companies that offer online services “likely to be accessed by children” to assess the impact of their product on children and explain privacy policies in language that children would understand.

Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, speaking at a legislative hearing on data privacy on Sep. 19. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Andrew Adams)

Under Rezin’s bill as it is written currently, businesses would be liable for civil penalties of up to $2,500 per affected child for negligent violations of privacy protections and up to $7,500 per affected child for intentional violations.

The proposal would also place new privacy and data restrictions on companies, limiting their ability to profit from and share data collected from or about minors. This has drawn support from some youth activists, who say a policy like this could help curb the harmful effects of social media.

“I’m here to speak on behalf of my generation for the harm we’ve experienced,” Zamaan Qureshi, co-chair of the advocacy organization Design It For Us, told lawmakers Tuesday. “Some of our generation have developed depression, eating disorders and attempted or taken their life due to social media.” 

Rezin said the proposal is “almost identical” to a similarly named California law passed in 2022. That law was inspired in turn by another similarly named policy adopted in the United Kingdom.

The age-appropriate design code would also require companies to estimate the age of their users to a “reasonable level of certainty” and apply child-focused protections based on that estimated age. Alternatively, the companies could apply those protections to all users.  

But Tyler Diers, a representative of the tech industry lobbying group TechNet, argued such a requirement would encourage web companies to collect more personally identifiable information than they already do, leading to increased risks from data breaches.

TechNet’s members include Apple, Google and Meta – the owner of Facebook and Instagram – among other large tech companies.

On Monday, a federal judge in the Northern District of California granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by tech lobbying group NetChoice that objects to California’s age-appropriate design code law. The judge found the tech industry’s argument that the law violates the First Amendment would likely prevail at trial.  

When asked about the pending legal challenges to the ideas underlying her bill, Rezin said she expects to iron out some of those details in future legislation.

“The hearing was a first step in educating my colleagues on how social media companies are creating algorithms to addict minors because they view minors as a product they can advertise to, to make money off of,” Rezin told Capitol News Illinois.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

 

Leave a Comment





Local News

Marist basketball player Darshan Thomas at an XposureRuns unsigned seniors event. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

XposureRuns seeks to raise profile of high school hoops players

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent While some people are leaving Illinois in search of opportunities elsewhere, some are coming to the state and creating their own opportunities for themselves and others. Mustafa Sulaiman, a native of Philadelphia who now lives in south suburban Matteson, is trying to help pave the way to college for…

Red Stars goalie Mackenzie Wood makes a save in a July 20 Summer Cup match against Gotham. IMAGN photo

Gotham tops Red Stars in PKs after scoreless draw

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent It’s rare to see the Chicago Red Stars participate in shootouts because NWSL regular-season games end in regulation, so fans got a treat on July 20. Gotham knocked off the Red Stars 5-4 on penalty kicks after regulation ended in a scoreless draw during the first round of the…

St. Rita graduate Sir Jamison Jones is ready to sign a deal with the Washington Nationals, who selected him in the 2024 MLB draft. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Players from Nazareth and St. Rita taken in 2024 MLB draft

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Three players from the area were selected in the 2024 Major League Baseball draft, which took place July 14-16. Pitcher Ryan Smith, who graduated from Nazareth in 2021 and ended up at Illinois-Chicago, was taken by Houston in the ninth round of the draft. Smith, who underwent Tommy John…

The Green Hills Public Library District, 10331 Interlochen Dr., Palos Hills, is hosting a Back-to-School Collection Drive from now until Friday, August 9. (Supplied photo)

Green Hills Library collecting back-to-school supplies

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White It may still be summer but the Green Hills Public Library District is preparing students for their return to the classroom. The library, 10331 Interlochen Dr., Palos Hills, is hosting a Back-to-School Collection Drive from now until Friday, August 9. “One of my biggest goals as a librarian has always…

The Oak Lawn Public Library's “Jazz Music Legends of Oak Lawn" exhibit will be on display at the library, 9427 Raymond Ave., Oak Lawn, throughout 2024 and into the Spring of ’25, and celebrates one of the biggest high school jazz competitions in the country, the Oak Lawn Jazz Festival, which was held from 1960 to 1986 at Oak Lawn Community High School. (Supplied photos)

Oak Lawn Library hosts Jazz Music Legends of Oak Lawn

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The sweet sounds of jazz have filled the Oak Lawn Public Library. Patrons were invited out on April 27 for the unveiling of the library’s latest Local History exhibit, “Jazz Music Legends of Oak Lawn.” The exhibit will be on display at the library, 9427 Raymond Ave., Oak Lawn, for…

Smith Valley resident, Eloise Johnson, and Miguel Candelas, Smith Senior Living Human Resources, worked together creating her time capsule memory last Wednesday afternoon. (Supplied photo)

Smith Village residents and employees celebrate 100 years of senior living

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Residents at Smith Village residents and employees celebrated the 100th year of the senior living community by forecasting the future. Hundreds of Smith Village residents and employees at Smith Village, 2320 W. 113th Place, Chicago, along with community leaders and elected officials, marked the senior living community’s anniversary by looking…

A statue from a monument lies on the ground at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

EF1 tornado barrels through Justice and Bridgeview

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan An EF1 tornado, packing winds of 90 miles per hour, swept through Justice and Bridgeview Monday night. Village of Justice Public Works Director Joe Cekus said he knew trouble was on the way. “I was looking in the sky for rotation and I heard a train,” he said. “I quickly…

Two pickup trucks in the 7400 block of Roberts Road in Bridgeview were destroyed by fire. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Bridgeview family loses two pickup trucks, but house is saved

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch A Bridgeview family in the 7400 block of Roberts Road knows first-hand the damage weather can do. When high winds hit around 9:30 p.m. Monday as a tornado blew through Justice, a cemetery and then into Bridgeview, two power lines were brought down near their bi-level house. One line fell…

Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois at Orland Square Mall on Friday. (Photo by Allie Baar)

Rihanna to open Savage X Fenty store in Orland Park on Friday

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Barbados superstar Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois on Friday morning in Orland Square Mall in Orland Park. The singer, actor and businesswoman will open the store at the mall’s lower level near the Coach store at 10 a.m. Savage X Fenty will host a…

The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on July 13. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park encourages residents to unplug

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on Saturday, July 13. The day is a state-wide effort, started in 2014, to encourage everyone to “plug into” the amazing recreational opportunities offered by local park and recreation agencies. The…

Neighbors

Marist basketball player Darshan Thomas at an XposureRuns unsigned seniors event. Photo by Xavier Sanchez

XposureRuns seeks to raise profile of high school hoops players

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Xavier Sanchez Correspondent While some people are leaving Illinois in search of opportunities elsewhere, some are coming to the state and creating their own opportunities for themselves and others. Mustafa Sulaiman, a native of Philadelphia who now lives in south suburban Matteson, is trying to help pave the way to college for…

Red Stars goalie Mackenzie Wood makes a save in a July 20 Summer Cup match against Gotham. IMAGN photo

Gotham tops Red Stars in PKs after scoreless draw

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent It’s rare to see the Chicago Red Stars participate in shootouts because NWSL regular-season games end in regulation, so fans got a treat on July 20. Gotham knocked off the Red Stars 5-4 on penalty kicks after regulation ended in a scoreless draw during the first round of the…

St. Rita graduate Sir Jamison Jones is ready to sign a deal with the Washington Nationals, who selected him in the 2024 MLB draft. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Players from Nazareth and St. Rita taken in 2024 MLB draft

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Correspondent Three players from the area were selected in the 2024 Major League Baseball draft, which took place July 14-16. Pitcher Ryan Smith, who graduated from Nazareth in 2021 and ended up at Illinois-Chicago, was taken by Houston in the ninth round of the draft. Smith, who underwent Tommy John…

The Green Hills Public Library District, 10331 Interlochen Dr., Palos Hills, is hosting a Back-to-School Collection Drive from now until Friday, August 9. (Supplied photo)

Green Hills Library collecting back-to-school supplies

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White It may still be summer but the Green Hills Public Library District is preparing students for their return to the classroom. The library, 10331 Interlochen Dr., Palos Hills, is hosting a Back-to-School Collection Drive from now until Friday, August 9. “One of my biggest goals as a librarian has always…

The Oak Lawn Public Library's “Jazz Music Legends of Oak Lawn" exhibit will be on display at the library, 9427 Raymond Ave., Oak Lawn, throughout 2024 and into the Spring of ’25, and celebrates one of the biggest high school jazz competitions in the country, the Oak Lawn Jazz Festival, which was held from 1960 to 1986 at Oak Lawn Community High School. (Supplied photos)

Oak Lawn Library hosts Jazz Music Legends of Oak Lawn

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The sweet sounds of jazz have filled the Oak Lawn Public Library. Patrons were invited out on April 27 for the unveiling of the library’s latest Local History exhibit, “Jazz Music Legends of Oak Lawn.” The exhibit will be on display at the library, 9427 Raymond Ave., Oak Lawn, for…

Smith Valley resident, Eloise Johnson, and Miguel Candelas, Smith Senior Living Human Resources, worked together creating her time capsule memory last Wednesday afternoon. (Supplied photo)

Smith Village residents and employees celebrate 100 years of senior living

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White Residents at Smith Village residents and employees celebrated the 100th year of the senior living community by forecasting the future. Hundreds of Smith Village residents and employees at Smith Village, 2320 W. 113th Place, Chicago, along with community leaders and elected officials, marked the senior living community’s anniversary by looking…

A statue from a monument lies on the ground at Resurrection Cemetery in Justice. (Photo by Carol McGowan)

EF1 tornado barrels through Justice and Bridgeview

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Carol McGowan An EF1 tornado, packing winds of 90 miles per hour, swept through Justice and Bridgeview Monday night. Village of Justice Public Works Director Joe Cekus said he knew trouble was on the way. “I was looking in the sky for rotation and I heard a train,” he said. “I quickly…

Two pickup trucks in the 7400 block of Roberts Road in Bridgeview were destroyed by fire. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Bridgeview family loses two pickup trucks, but house is saved

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch A Bridgeview family in the 7400 block of Roberts Road knows first-hand the damage weather can do. When high winds hit around 9:30 p.m. Monday as a tornado blew through Justice, a cemetery and then into Bridgeview, two power lines were brought down near their bi-level house. One line fell…

Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois at Orland Square Mall on Friday. (Photo by Allie Baar)

Rihanna to open Savage X Fenty store in Orland Park on Friday

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Bob Bong Barbados superstar Rihanna will open her first Savage X Fenty store in Illinois on Friday morning in Orland Square Mall in Orland Park. The singer, actor and businesswoman will open the store at the mall’s lower level near the Coach store at 10 a.m. Savage X Fenty will host a…

The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on July 13. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park encourages residents to unplug

Spread the love

Spread the loveBy Kelly White The Village of Palos Park encouraged residents to unplug their devices for a day at part of Unplug Illinois on Saturday, July 13. The day is a state-wide effort, started in 2014, to encourage everyone to “plug into” the amazing recreational opportunities offered by local park and recreation agencies. The…