Restaurant Chain Sued Over Alleged Use of Facial Recognition Data

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By Alexis Kramer

An Illinois resident is suing an Asian restaurant chain over its use of facial recognition technology to verify customers’ orders ( Morris v. Wow Bao LLC , Ill. Cir. Ct., No. 2017-CH-12029, complaint filed 9/5/17 ).

Wow Bao LLC, a restaurant chain with locations throughout the U.S., unlawfully collects and stores customers’ biometric data in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), plaintiff Regina Morris alleged in a complaint filed Sept. 5 in the Illinois Circuit Court. Morris alleged Wow Bao didn’t comply with the statute because it failed to obtain written consent to collect the data, inform customers of the specific purpose for the data collection, and provide guidelines for permanently destroying the data.

Illinois was the first state that enacted a biometric privacy law, followed by Texas and Washington. Bloomberg Law data show 10 complaints have been filed in the Illinois Circuit court under the state’s law since the beginning of the year.

Customers using facial biometrics to place orders at Wow Bao’s self-order kiosks have “no understanding of when their biometric identifiers will be removed from Defendants’ databases—or if they ever will,” Morris alleged. She said she experiences “mental anguish and injury” when thinking about whether Wow Bao shares her biometrics and whether it will ever delete the data.

Morris brought the claims on behalf of herself and other Wow Bao customers in Illinois. A Wow Bao spokesperson declined a Bloomberg BNA request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at aKramer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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