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Law360: NY, FTC Lead Charge To Expand Biometric Privacy Shields

January 15, 2021

O’Melveny special counsel Scott Pink commented on the latest move by New York lawmakers and the Federal Trade Commission to bolster privacy protections and increase scrutiny on companies utilizing their customers’ biometric data.

“As more organizations look to leverage biometric data, such as face scans and fingerprints, for commercial, security, and employment purposes, efforts to regulate how this sensitive information is collected, used and retained have been steadily mounting,” Law360 reported.

Attorneys noted that while the New York biometric privacy proposal is currently attracting the most attention, other states may not be far behind. “It certainly looks like the trend, at least in states that are considered more consumer-friendly, is going to be toward more legislation potentially requiring notice and consent to use biometric information,” Pink said.

The publication also discussed the FTC’s enforcement action over photo storage app Everalbum’s use of facial recognition technology, which alleged that the company deceived consumers about its use of the technology and its retention of the photos and videos of users who deactivated their accounts. As part of the proposed settlement, Everalbum must obtain consumers’ express consent before using facial recognition technology on their photos and videos.

“This settlement indicates that the FTC has a keen interest in protecting this data, which is generally considered pretty sensitive data because it goes to the heart and soul of someone’s identity, and that the FTC is going to take very seriously companies’ obligation to provide notice and act in a manner consistent with that notice,” Pink commented.

Law360 concluded that attorneys have urged companies to come up with a universal policy for handling biometric data that ensures they are being transparent with users about their collection, use, retention, disclosure, sale, and destruction of this information. 

Law360 subscribers can read the full article here.