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COVID Workplace Rules Raise Biometric Safety Concerns

Close up of male eye scanned for recognitionAs people begin to return to a modified work schedule, concerns have been raised over to the security of the health details that companies require and whether they are collected legally.

In many states, there are limited laws on the books regarding the storage of data. The most stringent available is Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). Essentially, if a company wants to store or get information, they must tell that they are giving the information what this information is being used for and the customer must sign off on it in their state. It also gives employees and even regular citizens the right to sue the company if they felt their privacy was violated.

Amazon is the latest to fall afoul of this Act. In September, workers at their Mundelein, Illinois warehouse filed a lawsuit against the tech giant which was then transferred to the US District Court in Chicago. In Michael Jerinic v. Amazon.Com Inc. and Amazon Com LLC., workers seeking class action status allege that Amazon had failed to inform them of their storing of data, when they mandated facial scanners and temperature checks before being allowed to come back into the facility. “The key allegation there is that the employees are alleging they lost control or the right to control” their biometric information, said Ted Stefas, vice president and chief underwriting counsel at Argo Pro, a unit of Argo Group International Holdings Ltd.[1]

Many other states are considering other legislation like this, but Illinois continues to be the standard. People are rightfully worried about their personal data and with COVID forcing the use of biometrics it only adds to what needs to be protected.

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[1] https://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20201110/NEWS06/912337665/Workplace-COVID-19-testing-raises-biometric-privacy-concerns-Michael-Jerinic-v-?fbclid=IwAR1qzUABW1UWtSBa-f87npwUdFe1OLGX0XQ5KICdbIlQE9x8z4G_ONtAWgk