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Walmart Voiceprint Biometrics Used in Warehouses Illinois BIPA Class Action

Walmart, Inc. appears to use voiceprints and voice technology extensively in its fulfillment or distribution centers. But voiceprints are considered biometrics, and the complaint for this class action alleges that Walmart’s Illinois facilities are subject to the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). At issue in this case, among other things, is the continued retention and storage of voiceprints that should have been permanently destroyed.

The class for this action is all persons who, within the applicable statute of limitations and while living in Illinois, had their voiceprints collected or otherwise obtained or disclosed by Walmart in Illinois.

Walmart appears to have four distribution centers in Illinois. The plaintiff in this case, Andrew L. Barton, worked as a picker in Elwood, Illinois. As a picker, he pulled items from bins and other storage areas and got them ready for shipping.

Pickers must provide templates of their voices saying certain words, phrases, and number combinations, so that the voice recognition technology can learn their voices. Pickers then work with headsets, including some that use the Vocollect system. They receive orders through the headsets, then must respond by saying where they are in the warehouse, what products and what amount of them they have just pulled, and the order they are filling.

According to the complaint, this allows Walmart “to track its inventory in real time, and to avoid waste and employee theft.”

BIPA requires that when private companies want to collect biometrics, they must inform workers in writing of the purpose for which the biometrics are being collected. They must also get signed releases from subjects even to collect the biometrics. The complaint alleges that when workers like Barton were told to provide their voiceprints, “they were never asked for their consent, nor were they ever provided with a written policy regarding the use of the biometric data.”

BIPA also requires that companies plan eventually to destroy the collected biometrics. It requires “establishing a retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying biometric identifiers and biometric information when the initial purpose for collecting such identifiers or information has been satisfied or within three years of the individual’s last interaction with the company, whichever comes first…” It must then comply with its policies.

According to the complaint, Barton and his fellow workers “were never told whether their voice prints would be deleted from the company’s system or when they would be deleted.” The complaint alleges, “A worker who leaves the company does so without any knowledge of when his biometric identifiers will be removed from [Walmart’s] databases—or if they will ever be.”

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Privacy

Most Recent Case Event

Walmart Voiceprint Biometrics Used in Warehouses Illinois BIPA Complaint

August 13, 2021

Walmart, Inc. appears to use voiceprints and voice technology extensively in its fulfillment or distribution centers. But voiceprints are considered biometrics, and the complaint for this class action alleges that Walmart’s Illinois facilities are subject to the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). At issue in this case, among other things, is the continued retention and storage of voiceprints that should have been permanently destroyed.

Walmart Voiceprint Biometrics Used in Warehouses Illinois BIPA Complaint

Case Event History

Walmart Voiceprint Biometrics Used in Warehouses Illinois BIPA Complaint

August 13, 2021

Walmart, Inc. appears to use voiceprints and voice technology extensively in its fulfillment or distribution centers. But voiceprints are considered biometrics, and the complaint for this class action alleges that Walmart’s Illinois facilities are subject to the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). At issue in this case, among other things, is the continued retention and storage of voiceprints that should have been permanently destroyed.

Walmart Voiceprint Biometrics Used in Warehouses Illinois BIPA Complaint
Tags: BIPA, Biometric Data, Taking/Storing/Using Biometric Data, Your Privacy