Trial lawyers win, consumers & local businesses lose, law threatens helpful tech
On Wednesday, Chamber of Progress released Who Benefits from BIPA?: An Analysis of Cases Under IL Biometrics Law, a new study examining the legal history and impact of Illinois’ biometric privacy legislation.
The paper, which comes as legislatures in over half-a-dozen states consider biometric privacy legislation modeled after Illinois’ law, is the first-ever in-depth analysis of legal filings to show how the law has been used and whom it has benefited most.
“BIPA was enacted to protect consumers from biometric data breaches, but the law has had serious unintended consequences for Illinois consumers and businesses,” said paper author and Chamber of Progress Senior Economist Kaitlyn Harger. “BIPA’s biggest winners are trial lawyers instead of consumers, while hundreds of local businesses have faced massive fines even when their practices haven’t resulted in harm. States considering copying Illinois’ BIPA law should think twice.”
Key findings from the study include:
- The vast majority of BIPA lawsuits (88%) have been employer-employee disputes resulting from biometric timekeeping.
- In the eight BIPA case settlements involving alleged harm to consumers, plaintiffs’ lawyers received an average settlement of $11.5 million per firm per case, while individuals received an average settlement of $506 per case.
- Four plaintiffs’ law firms – Carrol, Rhow, and Fegan, Edelson, P.C., Labaton Sucharow, LLP., and Robins, Gellar, Rudman, and Dowd, LLP. – made more than $30 million each from consumer-oriented settlements alone.
- A key 2019 court ruling stating that plaintiffs did not need to demonstrate harm led to a 1400% increase in BIPA lawsuit filings.
- The largest category of BIPA lawsuits alleging consumer harm involved facial scans (78%), with most of those encompassing security and identity verification services or virtual try-on services.
Chamber of Progress (progresschamber.org) is a center-left tech industry policy coalition promoting technology’s progressive future. We work to ensure that all Americans benefit from technological leaps, and that the tech industry operates responsibly and fairly.
Our corporate partners do not have a vote on or veto over our positions. We do not speak for individual partner companies and remain true to our stated principles even when our partners disagree.