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Consumer protections for biometric information?

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A bill that is now being considered by the Senate would prevent businesses from using biometric information about a customer “for any purpose other than that which the individual reasonably expects.” 

What is “biometric information”? 

An example of “biometric information” might be DNA you share with a genetic history company or facial recognition data gathered from photo sharing websites. 

The bill would ban the “improper use” of this data, such as a company selling a customer’s DNA profile or fingerprint information without the customer realizing it. 

With new technology comes new risks 

Thanks to advancing technology, consumers today may be giving away more information about themselves than they realize. We use our fingerprints and facial recognition data to log into our smartphones, and may submit our DNA to ancestry companies like 23 And Me. The biometric bill’s sponsor, Rep. Luneau, says the bill would make it so companies “can't go selling [a customer’s biometric information] to the highest bidder, they can't go putting it online and giving it away to the world.” 

Pros and cons 

Proponents of the bill include former state representative and privacy advocate Neal Kurk, who argues “A reasonable person should have reasonable expectations of what should be done with his information… There’s no going back. You can’t get a new face, can’t change your DNA.” Such privacy advocates feel companies don’t always make it clear to their customers how their personal data – including biometric information - might be used by the company. 

Opponents feel the measure is too broad, especially since people have different ideas about what they might “reasonably expect” businesses to do with their information.  This could have all sorts of unintended legal consequences. For example, the attorneys in the state's consumer protection bureau already handle thousands of complaints every year. If the law passed, it could increase the number of complaints and require additional staffing. 


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Consumer 'Protection' Laws will have negligible effect upon sham promises to protect 'biometric information'. l do not support this initiative. Very often, linkage used is that of instantly scouring social media for a consumer's name. This links that name to friends, colleagues, business associates, neighbors, family, and to wherever else the linkage tree expands. 'Facial recognition', blood type, ethnicity, 'data', financial information, et al., is an open book now. Fingerprints are used in a growing industry of 'secondary
identity' verification - cell phones, 'smart phones', financial businesses, domestic utility industries, & more. Industries that use 'biometric information' ought to be regulated to show very plain, open, simplified statements of what use will be made of the information, however obtained, from the consumer. This NOT as any footnote agreement. But, as a major, outlined portion of any & all agreements between consumer & user. The consumer MUST be presented with plain facts; be educated about 'biometric information'. This ought to be law; by regulation; by judicial fiat. 'Biometric information is already! a plethora of data which can be data-mined by digital resources. Consumers who are, then, 'victimized' by data users, are not attentive, deliberately naive, uneducated, dependent &/or fully self-entitled to protections from any level of government for their not self-responsible behavior.

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