New York City Biometric Privacy Law Firm
If your New York employer collected your biometrics you may have rights
New York City passed a new biometric ordinance governing how businesses handle biometric identifier data. The new law is the first of its kind in New York, and it applies to commercial establishments that use biometrics to identify their customers (including retail stores, places of entertainment, restaurants, food trucks, and other food and drink establishments). The ordinance requires covered establishments to post a clear and conspicuous sign informing customers of the biometric collection activity. Additionally, the ordinance makes it illegal to sell, lease, or profit from biometric identifier data. Notably, New York City’s biometric ordinance establishes a private right of action for those who are treated unfairly to sue for violations.
What is biometric identifier information?
In the ordinance, the term “biometric identifier information” is defined as a “physiological or biological characteristic that is used by or on behalf of a commercial establishment, singly or in combination, to identify, or assist in identifying, an individual, including, but not limited to:
(i) a retina or iris scan,
(ii) a fingerprint or voiceprint,
(iii) a scan of hand or face geometry, or any other identifying characteristic.”
What kinds of businesses are covered under NYC Biometric Privacy Law?
The biometric ordinance applies to any “commercial establishment,” which is broadly defined as a “place of entertainment, a retail store, or a food and drink establishment.”
- Places of entertainment – Any privately or publicly owned and operated entertainment facility, such as a theater, stadium, arena, racetrack, museum, amusement park, observatory, or other place where attractions, performances, concerts, exhibits, athletic games or contests are held.
- Retail stores – Any establishment where consumer commodities are sold, displayed or offered for sale or where services are provided to consumers at retail.
- Food and drink establishments -Any establishment that gives or offers for sale food or beverages to the public for consumption or use on or off the premises, or on or off a pushcart, stand or vehicle.
What is required under NYC Biometric Law?
According to the ordinance, covered entities must (i) disclose how they use a customer’s biometric identifier information and (ii) refrain from selling or profiting from biometric identifier information.
Are there exceptions under NYC Biometric Law?
Yes, the ordinance does not apply to government agencies or their employees or agents as well as financial institutions (such as banks, credit unions, broker-dealers, and securities firms). Financial institutions, on the other hand, are still prohibited from profiting from biometric identifier data.
Biometric identifier information collected through photographs or video recordings is specifically exempted from the ordinance if: (i) it is not analyzed by software or applications that identify or assist in identifying individuals based on physiological or biological characteristics, and (ii) it is not shared with, sold, or leased to third parties other than law enforcement. In other words, a business’s use of closed caption security cameras is exempt from the law.