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Facial Imaging Cited

Amazon Denies Violating Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act

Amazon and Amazon Web Services “expressly deny” they violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by using the company’s Rekognition facial-imaging technology to monitor employees in Amazon fulfillment centers, said the companies in a notice of removal Wednesday (docket 1:22-cv-05159) in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Amazon and AWS “intend to defend this matter vigorously,” they said.

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Benita and Nelson Gorgas, who both work as “sorting associates” in Amazon’s Cicero, Illinois, fulfillment center, filed a class action Aug. 9 in Cook County, Illinois, Circuit Court, alleging Amazon profits from its “biometric identifiers” and information by using the biometric data “to improve the Rekognition technology that Amazon uses itself and also sells to businesses, governmental entities, and other organizations.” It’s unclear how long Amazon retains the biometric identifiers and information derived from the capturing of workers' faces, and “how long Amazon continues to profit from them,” said their complaint.

Amazon employees “lost the right to control the collection, use, and storage of their biometric identifiers and information and were exposed to ongoing, serious, and irreversible privacy risks -- simply by going into work,” said the complaint.

Illinois enacted BIPA “specifically to regulate companies that collect, store, and use Illinois citizens' biometrics, such as facial geometry scans,” it said. “Notwithstanding the clear and unequivocal requirements of the law, Amazon knowingly disregards” its workers' “statutorily protected privacy rights” and unlawfully collects, obtains, stores, disseminates, and uses their biometric data in violation of BIPA, it said.

Amazon workers have been "continuously and repeatedly exposed to the risks and harmful conditions" created by Amazon's BIPA violations, said the complaint. "No amount of time or money" can compensate employees" if their biometric data has been compromised by the intentional, reckless, and/or negligent procedures through which Amazon captures, stores, uses, and disseminates" their biometric data, it said.