Hartzog09.02.20 — Biometric technologies use physical characteristics, such as voice tone or hand shape, to identify people automatically. The possibilities and perils of this technology are at the heart of Professor Woodrow Hartzog’s case study, “BIPA: The Most Important Biometric Privacy Law in the US?,” published in NYU Law AI Now Institute’s Regulating Biometrics: Global Approaches and Urgent QuestionsThe compendium identifies key themes from existing legal approaches to regulating biometric technologies and poses open questions to inform ongoing national policy and advocacy efforts to regulate biometric recognition technologies.

In his case study,  Hartzog, a law and computer science expert, explores the promise and pitfalls of the State of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) and, more broadly, of the right for private citizens to bring their own actions against private companies. He questions the inevitable limits of a law that is centered on “informed consent,” a system that gives the illusion of control while justifying dubious practices that people do not have enough time or resources to understand and act on. 

“I’m so thrilled to have been given the opportunity by AI Now to contribute to this excellent collection. Policymakers, companies, and people who use biometric technologies have some very important decisions to make that will implicate our privacy for years to come. I hope this contribution helps frame the discussion in a productive way,” said Hartzog, author of Privacy’s Blueprint: The Battle to Control the Design of New Technologies (Harvard University Press, 2018), which has been called “one of the most important books about privacy in our times.”

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