On Wednesday TSN reported that the Chicago Blackhawks were facing a proposed class-action lawsuit by an Illinois man who claimed the National Hockey League team inappropriately used facial recognition software to obtain and store his biometric data. The case was one that could have affected many fans that attend an arena for any sporting event, as the technology utilized for facial recognition and the data it generates will become a much more prevalent topic of debate in the coming days.
James Allen, the original platnif, said he attended a Blackhawks game at the United Center on December 18, 2018. According to TSN, the lawsuit alleged the Blackhawks “scanned Mr. Allen’s facial geometry from security camera footage and stored a facial geometry template for Mr. Allen. The defendant failed to inform Mr. Allen in writing that it was collecting his biometric identifiers or information, the purpose and length of term for such collection, and failed to obtain their written consent before defendant collected his facial geometry scan.”
Of the U.S. states that have stand-alone biometric privacy laws, Illinois’ law mandates that companies obtain written permission before collecting a person’s fingerprints, facial scans or other identifying biological characteristics. The law gives residents the ability to sue companies for up to $5,000 per violation.
According to TSN, Allen’s claim also alleged the Blackhawks “never established or followed a publicly available written policy establishing a retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying scans of Mr. Allen’s facial geometry.”
The Blackhawks denied Allen’s claims.
Hours after the publication of the TSN article on Wednesday morning it was reported that the plaintiff had dropped the lawsuit.
UPDATE: A Blackhawks spokesman says the plaintiff in this lawsuit has agreed to voluntarily dismiss his case against the NHL team.
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) September 1, 2021
In an email sent to TSN on Wednesday, Blackhawks spokesman Adam Rogowin wrote Allen agreed to withdraw his complaint, citing an August 23 court document.
“This matter has been resolved and plaintiff moves to dismiss this case with prejudice,” the court document says.
The Blackhawks franchise denies it collected Mr. Allen’s ‘biometric identifiers or information,’ denies it violated BIPA, and denies any remaining allegations…,” the team wrote in a July 23, 2020, response.
We will let you decide what transpired between the publication of TSN’s original article on Wednesday morning, and the subsequent announcement by the Blackhawks that the suit was voluntarily dropped by the plantif.
By Jon Sorensen