Target Accused of Violating Illinois Consumer Privacy Law by Collecting Biometric Data in New Lawsuit

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An Illinois woman has filed a class action lawsuit against Target after she says the company illegally collects biometric data without consumer consent through its advanced security system.

Arnetta Deans accuses the retail giant of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act among other allegations. Under Illinois law, it is illegal for private companies to track or identify people without their consent through the use of facial recognition technology. Critics of this technology argue that facial recognition is both inaccurate and harmful as it possesses harmful consequences that target a community’s most vulnerable individuals including women, children, and people of color.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, (BIPA) which was unanimously voted into law in 2008, establishes clear standards on how private companies can handle a consumer's biometric information. Four other states including Arkansas, California, Texas, and Washington have adopted variations of this law.

Deans filed her lawsuit in March in Cook County. In it, she alleges, “Target’s stores in Illinois are outfitted with cameras and advanced video surveillance systems that — unbeknownst to customers — surreptitiously collect, possess, or otherwise obtain Biometric Data.” Her complaint describes Target's use of facial recognition systems as a “top of the line” system.

This high-tech equipment shower is being used on consumers without their consent, she argues. Target shoppers “have been deprived of their control over their valuable information and otherwise suffered monetary and non-monetary losses,” the complaint reads.

As a result, Deans says that Target has “profited from its unlawful conduct in several forms, including reducing shrinkage (loss of inventory by theft) and saving money on having to hire loss prevention employees or third-party vendors.” The lawsuit goes on to say that Target’s conduct also exposed Plaintiff and the Class to a heightened risk of an invasion of their privacy.”

In recent social media postings regarding Target’s high-tech security systems and facial recognition software, users have commented on the stark clarity of surveillance footage circulating online shows. Some online users point out that Target’s security systems allow the company to capture footage that remains sharp and clear, even when a subject, or their personal belongings like a phone or purse are zoomed in on.

A current or former Target employee identified as Justin Vuylsteke in the complaint recounts that Target’s surveillance systems are so advanced that competitors including Walmart, TJX, BJ’s, and Kohl’s have visited Target stores “to get ideas for their own retail stores with respect to monitoring consumers.”

In her lawsuit, Deans is seeking $5,000 for each intentional or reckless violation of BIPA, and $1,000 for every negligent violation of the law.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate from James Madison University, where she studied English and Education. Residing in Central Virginia with her husband and two young daughters, she balances her workaholic tendencies with a passion for travel, exploring the world with her family.
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