In January 2021, the New York City Council enacted biometric privacy legislation that restricts “commercial establishments” in New York City in the use and collection of biometric information. The law takes effect in the coming weeks, on July 9, 2021, so commercial establishments in New York City need to ensure they are in compliance right away.
Biometric information includes a retina scan, iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, scan of hand or face geometry, “or any other identifying characteristic.” In addition, commercial establishments are prohibited from engaging in transactions involving biometric information or receiving anything of value for the exchange of biometric information. The law includes a requirement that commercial establishments that collect or use biometric information post a conspicuous sign at the establishment’s entrances notifying customers that biometric information is being collected, retained, converted, stored, or shared. It also provides for per-violation damages of $500 for signage violations; however, that provision is subject to a notice-and-cure period of thirty days. If the signage violation is cured within thirty days, no claim can be filed by the affected individual. Negligent violations of the prohibition against exchanging biometric information for value are subject to per-violation damages of $500 for negligent violations and $5,000 for reckless or intentional violations. In addition, a prevailing party can recover attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses for any violation of the law.
For more information about New York City’s law, see our prior blog post and webinar on this subject: