Illinois Supreme Court one step closer to ruling on biometric privacy case

Finger and Biometric Scanning Device (MGN)

Illinois' highest court heard oral arguments Tuesday relating to biometrics and privacy rights.

The question justices are tasked with answering: Are people harmed if they have their biometrics collected without their consent?

In 2014, Stacy Rosenbach alleged Six Flags collected her son's fingerprint without her knowledge or consent after she bought him a season pass online.

Her attorney, Philip Bock, said that was illegal.

"When he got there, the defendants required him to provide his fingerprint to pick up the season pass as part of the process," Bock said. "They did so without providing any written information about why they were collecting it or for how long they would store it."

An appellate court ruled the fingerprint collection didn't cause direct injury or a negative effect, but Rosenbach's attorney argued the Supreme Court should side with them.

"In the trial court, defendants argued the plaintiff was not grieved enough to file suit because, they argued, she did not allege any actual injury even though she alleged defendants took her son's fingerprints in violation of a statue that expressly prohibited them from doing so," Bock said.

Since the fingerprint collection didn't cause any financial or physical harm, Six Flags attorney Kathleen O'Sullivan argued there's no case, even if the data was collected illegally.

"If someone has harm, that company can be punished," O'Sullivan said.

"But if there's no harm, the company can continue to violate the law with impunity?" Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier asked.

"The company risks great exposure from doing that, but no. The way the legislature chose to write it, a grieved meaning harmed, as we heard, the remedy is there," O'Sullivan said.

There's no deadline for the High Court to make their ruling.

This case could have bigger implications. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce released a statement Thursday that said if the Illinois Supreme Court sides with the Rosenbachs, a flood of class action lawsuits will be filed.

They claim that would clog Illinois' judicial system.

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