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3D illustration. Fingerprint integrated in a printed circuit, releasing binary codes. (Shutterstock) But insurance coverage for BIPA liability may exist under several different types of policies. (Photo: Shutterstock)

On Jan. 6, 2021, a bipartisan group of 17 New York legislators introduced a biometrics bill in the New York Legislature modeled on the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Biometrics are personal identifiers such as retina scans, fingerprints, and voice or face recognition. They are individualized and reliable and increasingly used for security and computer and systems access. BIPA, which creates a host of obligations for collectors of biometric data and a private right of action for individuals harmed by violations, has been a disaster for Illinois businesses, resulting in literally hundreds of class actions.

The New York bill contains the same provisions from BIPA that created this litigation tsunami, as it similarly would regulate the use, and abuse, of biometric information. Companies subject to the bill must advise individuals that the companies are collecting biometric data, indicate the length and purpose of the collection, and obtain written permission to proceed. Covered entities are prohibited from selling or profiting from this information, must use “reasonable” standards of care, cannot disclose the information except in enumerated circumstances, and must develop a written retention policy. The bill comes just over a year after New York made biometric information a data element subject to the state’s data breach notification laws under the SHIELD Act.

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