2 min read

Last month, the state of Illinois passed a Biometric privacy bill where a person can claim damages when their fingerprint is used without consent. Now, Cisco and Microsoft propose ideas for biometric privacy.

The Cisco proposal states:

  • ‘Ensure interoperability between different privacy protection regimes.’ This could threaten GDPR.
  • ‘Avoid fracturing of legal obligations for data privacy through a uniform federal law that aligns with the emerging global consensus.’ This means gelling multiple levels of law systems, like state national into one, so a violation would go through only one level of a lawsuit.
  • ‘Reassure customers that enforcement of privacy rights will be robust without costly and unnecessary litigation.’ Litigation is expensive, for individuals and more so for corporates, this can make it less expensive for the corporations.

Microsoft is lobbying for a federal bill on facial recognition in Washington, according to a Bloomberg report. Bradd Smith, President at Microsoft, told Bloomberg: “Opening up the software for third-party testing is one of the key parts of the bill”. If the Washington bill is passed, it will affect companies like Amazon, Microsoft and any other companies that use personal data with a consumer base above 100,000. Meanwhile, Amazon has not made any comments on the bill as it’s still being modified.

Cisco and Microsoft supporting federal privacy bills would sound like good news, but it’s not. If a new federal privacy bill is supported by a company, it would be designed to provide leeway to the company on how the rules regarding data collection and usage are set. According to a New York Times report from August last year, “In recent months, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and others have aggressively lobbied officials in the Trump administration and elsewhere to start outlining a federal privacy law, according to administration officials and the companies. The law would have a dual purpose, they said: It would overrule the California law and instead put into place a kinder set of rules that would give the companies wide leeway over how personal digital information was handled.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act is a good way forward for the consumers and should set an example of respecting user privacy. This may seem too strict but maybe that’s what is needed at this point.

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