A new biometric privacy law in New York City has recently gone into effect. Following in the footsteps of other cities with strict biometric laws, such as Chicago and Portland, NYC is stepping up protection measures for consumers. With significant technology advancements over the years, the way companies keep track of its consumershas drastically changed. Identifying people via retina, facial and fingerprint scans is now commonplace. Many big retail stores collect biometric identifier information by taking images of unsuspecting customers while they are shopping. Unfortunately, having your biometric data on file somewhere can leave you vulnerable, especially if you don’t know what the company is doing with it or who has access to it. Obviously if your biometric data was compromised, you should be entitled to compensation if your rights have been violated. Now, under NYC’s new biometric privacy law, companies may be liable for collecting and profiting from your biometric data – even if it is never compromised.
The new law, which went into effect last month, requires certain businesses to disclose and clearly post a formal notice alerting its customers that they collect biometric data on the premises. Additionally, the law states they are not allowed to sell off the data for a profit and must monitor and limit how third parties are able to access this data. If an establishment fails to comply, the consumer or employee has a private right of action to sue. This means you can try and recover monetary compensation for every violation against your rights. This law specifically notes that you can collect statutory damages that can range from $500 to $5,000 for every infraction depending on whether the violation was willful.
Establishments like retail or food stores as well as places of entertainment like music venues, stadiums, museums and amusement parks will all have to comply with these new notification and monitoring measurements if they choose to collect your data. It is important to be aware of how this information is handled because unlike a credit card, if it falls into the wrong hands it cannot be changed for a new one when compromised. Moreover, some studies have shown vast collection of biometric data can result in discriminatory business practices. Due to the increase in biometric use, not only must companies utilize this information responsibly but consumers deserve to be compensated if their rights have been violated. If you have any questions or concerns regarding biometric privacy laws and your rights, don’t hesitate to call our firm, Fitapelli & Schaffer, LLP, for a free and confidential phone consultation at (212)300-0375. You can also visit our website here to learn more about our firm.