Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced the “National Biometric Information Privacy Act of 2020,” a bill that would prohibit private companies from collecting or profiting from  biometric data — including eye scans, voiceprints, faceprints and fingerprints — without consumers’ and employees’ consent.

The legislation limits the ability of companies to collect, buy, sell, lease, trade or retain individuals’ biometric information without specific written consent, and requires companies to disclose information collected. The bill would allow individuals and state attorneys general to bring lawsuits against companies that fail to comply.

Interestingly, the written consent is defined as:

  • Specific, discrete, freely given, unambiguous, and informed written consent given by an individual who is not under any duress — a definition strongly echoing the requirements for consent under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation; or
  • In the context of employment, a release executed by an employee as a condition of employment — very different than the EU approach, deeming employee consent as not freely given in most circumstances.

Read the full text of the legislation.