Facebook-backed lawmakers are pushing to gut privacy law (From The Verge)

As Zuckerberg prepares to testify before Congress, Facebook is quietly fighting a crucial privacy measure in the Illinois Statehouse. Starting tomorrow, state legislators will consider a new amendment to the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) that could neuter one of the strongest privacy laws in the US, giving Facebook free rein to run facial recognition scans without users’ consent.

For years, Facebook has been battling a lawsuit based on BIPA, which required explicit consent before companies can collect biometric data like fingerprints or facial recognition profiles. According to the plaintiffs, Facebook’s photo-tagging system violates that law, identifying faces in uploaded photos with no clear notice or consent. (Similar lawsuits have also been filed against Google and Snapchat.) Facebook added a more explicit consent provision earlier this year, but the lawsuit has continued on the basis of the earlier collection.

This week’s amendment would carve out significant new exceptions to the bill, allowing companies to collect biometric data without notice or consent as long as it’s handled with the same protections as other sensitive data. Companies could also be exempted if they do not sell or otherwise profit from the data, or if it is used only for employment purposes.

It’s not the first time lawmakers have tried to gut the bill, often with Facebook’s direct encouragement. In 2016, a proposed revision from Illinois State Sen. Terry Link tried to limit the law to scans taken in the physical world, a definition that would rule out faceprints collected from uploaded photos. Facebook applauded the proposal at the time, saying, “We appreciate Sen. Link’s effort to clarify the scope of the law he authored.” Link ultimately withdrew the proposal.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on this week’s proposal, but the company is a member of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Tech Council, which has been actively supporting the amendment. Facebook has also made direct campaign contributions to many of the lawmakers supporting the amendment, with public donation records showing $5,500 donated to the amendment’s four sponsors over the past six months.

Technology

via The Verge http://bit.ly/2quA95A

April 10, 2018 at 07:22AM