Why Privacy Matters
Technology is an indispensable part of our daily lives, and we rely on a variety of devices to keep us connected and informed. These devices help us manage our workloads and schedules, share news with loved ones, and run our homes.
At the same time, these devices—and the companies that manufacture them—are continually capturing data about us, including identifying information, online activities, shopping habits, and other preferences. This personal information is a valuable commodity, allowing companies to develop a better understanding of us as consumers. As we become more dependent on technology, we are increasingly susceptible to companies that use illegal practices to access our data for their own commercial gain.
No one should have to sacrifice a reasonable expectation of privacy in exchange for modern convenience, particularly without knowledge or consent. Keller Lenkner is committed to helping protect our clients’ personal privacy through cases based on state and federal statutes.
Case Highlight: Amazon Alexa Class Actions
In June 2019, Keller Lenkner filed class-action lawsuits in California and Washington against Amazon because its Alexa devices routinely record minor children without consent.
In addition to processing user commands, Amazon’s Alexa technology permanently saves recordings of its users’ voices on Amazon servers. These recordings are later analyzed to create “voiceprints” that are recognizable by all Alexa-enabled devices. Although Amazon purports to obtain consent from adult users through the device-registration process, children are also frequent users of these devices. Children are never required to provide consent to be recorded; nor are their parents required to give consent on their behalf. Amazon’s voice-printing practice enables intensely invasive activities, such as tracking children’s use of Alexa-enabled devices and matching those uses to their personal details, solely for the company’s commercial benefit.
Recording a person’s voice implicates a special privacy interest that many states have protect through specific statutes that prohibit recordings without consent. Our clients’ class-action lawsuits seek money damages for each violation of those state laws as well as an order that would force Amazon to delete all existing voice recordings of minor children and discontinue its practice of recording minor children without consent.
Case Highlight: Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act
Biometric identifiers like fingerprints and retina scans are used for everything from unlocking computers to accessing ATMs. The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA, is the country’s most stringent biometric privacy law. BIPA requires anyone who records biometric information to get informed consent before doing so, and to create a publicly available retention policy so people can be assured that their sensitive biometric data won’t be disclosed without their knowledge. Although BIPA has existed for more than a decade, companies are still capturing biometric information in Illinois without explaining the implications of that capture to their employees and customers.
At Keller Lenkner, we represent groups of individuals who have had their biometric information wrongfully recorded without consent by employers and technology platforms alike. Our goal is to make sure that sensitive biometric information is only given up knowingly, and that employers and other firms take responsibility for protecting that information once it comes into their possession.