From Fingerprints to Facial Recognition: Scanning Developments in Biometric Technology

RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law

The landscape of biometric technology is rapidly evolving. In recent years, new and exciting biometric products, businesses, and service providers have entered the market. As a result, tools that were once pure science fiction have morphed into mundane aspects of modern life. Biometric technology itself is becoming a staple of business and consumer use alike. As the implementation of biometric technology spreads farther and wider, the impact of its regulation—and potential for class action litigation exposure—is already evident. Household names like Facebook, Shutterfly, TikTok, Walmart (and others) have entered into multi-million-dollar settlements to resolve biometric class actions. This article discusses existing/developing biometric technologies, the legal landscape, notable settlements, and provides practical guidance for companies using—or considering the use of—biometric technology.

Biometric technology is all around us. Whether clocking into work by scanning your fingerprint, unlocking a cellphone with your face, or virtually “trying on” a product via your smartphone camera, biometric technology is, quite literally, at our fingertips.

The reach of biometrics will only expand with new innovations. Even now, the prevalence of biometrics can be seen across the banking, technology, travel, healthcare, entertainment, and security industries. The marketplace for biometric technology has already grown to over $20 billion dollars annually; it is expected to reach close to $60 billion by 2025.

As biometric technology gains a global foothold, it is important to not only understand how biometric technology is used in the worldwide marketplace but also what it is and what it does.

At its core, biometric technology is used to identify a person or verify their identity through their unique physical characteristics that can be used for automated recognition. Biometric technology arises in many forms, including now-common fingerprint scanning and facial recognition technologies, all the way to iris and retina scanning and voice recognition. Despite their obvious differences, the crux of all these biometric technologies involve capturing an individual’s unique biometric identifiers, typically for the purposes of identification and verification.

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“From Fingerprints to Facial Recognition: Scanning Developments in Biometric Technology,” by Jeffrey N. Rosenthal, David J. Oberly, and Amanda M. Noonan was published in the March–April 2022 edition of RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law (Vol. 5, No. 2), a Fastcase, Inc. publication. Reprinted with permission.