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Consumer Reports Supports Maine LD 1945 (Biometric privacy)

Consumer Reports writes in support of LD 1945, Amendment H-1018, to protect the privacy of biometric information. Though the collection and monetization of Maine consumers’ personal data has dramatically expanded over the last thirty years, consumers have almost no say over whether their biometric information will be shared by a company with countless others. This important proposal will protect biometric information, by default, will ensure that consumers cannot be charged for protecting their data, and provides appropriate incentives for companies to comply.

Biometric data clearly warrants these additional protections. Collection and retention of such data leaves it vulnerable to disclosure. Biometric data is commonly used to confirm consumers’ identity and can easily be exploited for identity theft and fraud purposes. Unlike a credit card number, the consumer’s biometric information cannot be changed, making its unwanted disclosure all the more dangerous. But concerns about inappropriate disclosure go far beyond its potential misuse for the purposes of fraud. Aside from the inherent privacy interest in keeping this information private, the disclosure of biometric data—for example, of voice recordings—could lead to reputational or emotional harm. Particularly in light of the plethora of data breaches in recent years, biometric data should have these additional protections.

For the full letter, please see the attached PDF.