Before anyone starts counting their imaginary money from suing Disney World or Universal Studios... chill. One of Robert's rules of the Internet is that the actual importance of a story is inversely proportional to how alarmed you feel by reading the headline. (For another example, the most crap-your-pants terrifying thing posted online in the past week was published under snooze-inducing headline, Fourth National Climate Assessment.)
Here are the facts of the Six Flags case: A 14-year-old got his finger scanned when picking up a Six Flags Great America pass. His mother is now suing, because she said she did not consent to the finger scan. An Illinois law requires that companies collecting biometric information get written approval from the person whose information they collect. The Illinois law does not allow the state to prosecute violations, but instead leaves it to aggrieved parties to sue.
Right off the bat, I question whether the Illinois law can be called "One of the Toughest Privacy Laws in the U.S." if it doesn't allow the state to prosecute violations. That's pretty weak, isn't it? And this case won't have any effect upon Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Cedar Fair, or any other theme park company that does not operate a property inside the state of Illinois, since it turns on a state law rather than a federal one. Nor will this case affect any adults who give their written permission for Six Flags to scan their finger when picking up a theme park ticket or pass.
The legal question here is whether the mom needs to show that she personally has suffered any harm from her son getting his finger scanned or not. Six Flags says she does have to prove that. The mom says she does not — that the mere fact that Six Flags did not obtain her consent as the guardian of her minor child is a violation of the state law. (Law School 101 here, in case you are wondering: Children cannot sign contracts or give legal consent for anything. Their parents or guardians must do so on their behalf.)
As legal questions go, this is about as narrow as a Six Flags switchback queue. If the woman wins in the Illinois Supreme Court, Six Flags is going to lose some money and require kids to get their parents' written permission to buy tickets in the future. If Six Flags wins, it might be harder for other people to sue over data privacy issues in Illinois, since there would now be a precedent that they have to show that they suffered some harm because a company collected their information without their explicit written consent.
But this case is not going to keep anyone from getting their finger scanned when going to Disney World or other popular theme parks. And its not going to lead to a big payday for theme park fans who have had their finger scanned in the past. But it is keeping Six Flags' lawyers billable hours up, so hey, win for them, right?Tweet
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