An Illinois federal court judge recently denied Amazon’s motion to dismiss in connection with a Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) putative class action brought by Amazon Alexa users. BIPA is an Illinois law that imposes a set of comprehensive rules for companies doing business in Illinois regarding the collection of biometric data.
Plaintiffs claim that Amazon unlawfully collects and utilizes Alexa users’ biometric voice data when they speak to the device. In its motion to dismiss, Amazon argued that it satisfied BIPA’s informed consent requirements during the Alexa Voice ID set up process. The court held that while it was a “close call,” plaintiffs’ claims survive the motion to dismiss stage because plaintiffs have “plausibly alleged” that Amazon did not satisfy BIPA’s informed consent requirements.
The court also refused to dismiss plaintiffs’ additional claims, including those asserting Amazon profited from sharing plaintiffs’ biometric data with third parties. While the court stated that plaintiffs’ allegations are “thin,” it rejected Amazon’s demand for greater specificity at the pleading stage. While the court’s order demonstrates the challenges companies face in responding to BIPA claims at the pleadings stage, it also suggests that Amazon and other companies may have effective summary judgment arguments.