The exponential increase over the past several years in lawsuits brought under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) is well documented. The plaintiffs’ bar now appears to have broadened its focus to include another Illinois privacy statute: the Illinois Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA), which regulates the use of genetic testing information. Like BIPA, GIPA provides a private right of action, permits recovery of steep statutory damages, and has experienced a recent proliferation in lawsuits after remaining relatively dormant for nearly 25 years. In 2023 alone, over 50 GIPA complaints were filed, and new suits continue to be filed in 2024. This article explores some of GIPA’s emerging issues and unanswered questions. 

GIPA Background & Requirements

The Illinois legislature enacted GIPA in 1998 to protect against the involuntary disclosure and use of “genetic testing” and “genetic information.” GIPA was amended in 2008 to conform to its federal analog, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GIPA, though, provides for significantly steeper statutory damages—even steeper than provided in BIPA: $15,000 per each intentional violation and $2,500 per each negligent violation, 410 ILCS 513/40(a), compared to $5,000 and $1,000, respectively, for BIPA, 740 ILCS 14/20.