NYC: Your Biometric Info – on the Market? It’s Not Science Fiction.

A hodded person looms over a laptop.

Consumers are right to be wary of entities collecting their personal and financial data: your bank account number, Social Security number, and credit card are hot targets for scammers and data miners and, rightfully so, there is larger public awareness about how companies may receive and use this data. But did you know that some companies use your biometric data, as well? When we say “biometric,” that means something more personal: a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, scan of hand or face geometry, or other items! It’s not science-fiction: businesses may have this information, too.

In an effort to protect consumers, New York City passed an ordinance which requires commercial establishments to disclose when they are collecting your biometric identifiers. Such a notice is supposed to be clear and conspicuous, near the entrance of the establishment, and in plain language. But not all businesses who collect this information are in compliance. If you’re in New York City, there is a possibility your fingerprints, voiceprints, face scans or scan of your hands are being collected, all without the consumer being noticed. Worse yet, some businesses may be selling or trading your biometric data for profit. If you were not notified about the procedure upon entering the store, or a business is selling your biometric data for profit: that’s against the law.

New York City has given consumers a means to fight back. New Yorkers can sue businesses who fail to notice consumers that their biometric identifiers are being collected, or businesses who are unlawfully selling their biometric identifiers for profit. If a business collects your biometric identifiers without your knowledge, you could be owed damages of $500 per violation; same if they negligently sell your information. If they intentionally do so, their damages as owed to you are $5,000.00 per violation.

If you suspect your biometric identifiers were collected without your knowledge, or worse, sold for profit, we want to speak with you. Fill out our contact form and describe the business and why you think they have misused your biometric identifiers, and a staff member from our office will get back with you.

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