Are School-Issued Chromebooks Violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act?

By Carolyn Wimbly Martin and Robert Piper

We have previously written about the growing trend for companies to collect biometric data on individuals and the concerns around how that data is used and stored. We have also discussed how certain state laws, like the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), can hold companies accountable through private rights of action, i.e., where consumers have the right to bring lawsuits for improper collection of their biometric data. Recently, parents have brought a new suit under BIPA against Google on behalf of their children, claiming that the company violated several provisions of the law when it collected data on students’ faces and voices through school-issued Chromebook laptops. On April 1, 2022, U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow denied Google’s motion to dismiss, allowing the case to proceed.

The Judge found that the complaint alleged sufficiently plausible violations of BIPA to withstand a motion to dismiss by stating that Google collected sensitive data on minors without parental consent. By collecting this data, Google is potentially creating a lifelong record of this sensitive information since there is no indication of how long the records will be retained. Additionally, while our past insight concerned voluntary activity, such as trying on make-up or eyeglasses virtually, going to school and using the school-issued Chromebook is mandatory. This case could set an important precedent in the law, establishing just how far private companies can go to collect biodata in the education space. Lutzker & Lutzker will continue to monitor the situation and counsel our clients on any potential changes in the biometric data collection and educational data management laws.