SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham advanced a measure that updates the liability guidelines in the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

“This reform to BIPA will protect small businesses from undue financial burden while still providing strong protections for consumers and workers,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “As technology continues to advance, it’s importance that our laws keep up with the times.”

Cunningham’s measure would limit the number of claims accrued should an employee bring a lawsuit against a company for a violation of BIPA. If a certain biometric identifier is collected by the same employer in the same manner, only one violation would accrue. This is a change from the current interpretation of BIPA, where claims are accrued on a per-collection basis, which resulted in hundreds of claims on a repeated violation.

SB 2979 also modernizes the manner in which written consent can be granted to include the use of electronic signatures. The original BIPA legislation took effect in 2008 when electronic signatures were not widely used. Cunningham’s legislation clarifies that because using electronic signatures is a common practice to obtain consent, they can be used to comply with BIPA consent requirements. 

“With this change, Illinois will still have some of the most robust biometric privacy protections in the nation,” said Cunningham. “This doesn’t change any current privacy protections in the law, it just adjusts the penalty for violating the act.”

Senate Bill 2979 passed the Senate on Thursday and heads to the House for further consideration.