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Chicago Blackhawks: Lawsuit about biometric data dismissed

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Chicago Blackhawks, Rocky Wirtz (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Blackhawks, Rocky Wirtz (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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In a somewhat bizarre course of events, the Blackhawks made the news again for a lawsuit. Only this time, it was because the organization allegedly had been collecting biometric data without consent. Then, just as suddenly as the story hit the newswire, it was over.

The case against the Chicago Blackhawks was voluntarily dismissed. TSN’s Rick Westhead published an article that the man who made the initial accusation against the team had agreed to dismiss the lawsuit. The whole thing transpired very quickly but left a couple of questions. One of which, why would the Blackhawks care about collecting biometric data anyway?

If you’re not familiar with the term, biometric data is basically a way to record information on someone’s body or behavior, but for individuals to verify their identity. This technology is fairly widespread already. For example, it is increasingly common for computers and smartphones to have thumbprint scanners. Facial recognition which is what the lawsuit was about, like thumbprint scanners, is basically just another example of biometric data.

There are actually quite a few reasons a sports team would want this kind of data. In fact, most sports teams collect biometric data of athletes, which brings with it all kinds of peculiar questions. However, there are other reasons. For example, as reported by NPR, a soccer team in Denmark implemented biometric data collection to keep track of violent fans. We’ve probably all seen viral videos of fans pummeling each other, and this technology might curtail some of that nonsense.  Additionally, according to CNBC, biometric data may eventually impact ticketing for sports fans,  just like there are separate biometric scanners at airports.

After the story was dismissed, Westhead tweeted out a statement from the Blackhawks, and the original lawsuit.

In addition to the story discussed here, Westhead has also been covering the legal issues surrounding the allegations of sexual assault by a former coach against a former player. Unlike the facial recognition lawsuit, that one is ongoing.

Why did the plaintiff think his data was being collected? There are clear cases for using biometric data in sports, but this particular lawsuit came off as a bit surprising, and the speed with which it went away was equally surprising. All within a day. OK then!

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There will be a lot to focus on this season, such as whether or not Chicago is really a playoff team, or if Marc-Andre Fleury can win the Vezina Trophy again? No doubt, Chicago’s fans want the new Blackhawks netminder to walk away with the trophy, en route to the Stanley Cup! However, the dismissal of the most recent legal proceeding is one less distraction as the 2021-22 season quickly approaches.

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