Proposed House Bill No. 5019 May Complicate Issues for Businesses Who Maintain Biometric Identifier Databases for Employees

Michigan businesses who maintain databases for employee fingerprints and other biometric identifiers should pay attention to House Bill No. 5019, also known as the “biometric information privacy act”.  This bill may allow employees to sue employers who fail to inform employees in writing that their biometric identifiers will be stored for a period of time or fail to obtain consent from their employees prior to gathering biometric identifiers. For the purposes of this bill, “biometric identifiers” include but are not limited to: retina scans, voice print recognition, fingerprint scans, and facial recognition. This legislation is meant to regulate the storage of, “any information, regardless of how it is captured, converted, stored, or shared, based on an individual’s biometric identifier, used to identify an individual.”

Recently, a string of lawsuits have been filed in Illinois for the improper storage of employee fingerprints in company databases. These suits center around the employers’ failures to properly give notice of their intention to retain fingerprint scans. Illinois law, like proposed House Bill No. 5019, requires employers to inform their employees of their intention to collect the biometric information and the period of time that the employer will store the information. If this bill moves forward, businesses who store biometric identifiers should create a policy to comply with the new regulation and/or consult legal counsel.

This article was written by Nezar Habhab, Law Clerk.

 * Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.


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