VanderWall bill enabling age verification by face and fingerprint scans now law

LANSING, Mich. — A bill authored by Sen. Curt VanderWall to allow the use of biometric technology to verify the age of someone purchasing alcohol is now law.

Senate Bill 543, now Public Act 78 of 2020, allows merchants to use secure biometric scans of a consumer’s face or fingerprint to verify the age of that person when they attempt to purchase alcohol.

“As technology has continued to develop, biometric data is being utilized more and more in our daily life,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “We are already unlocking our cell phones with fingerprints and facial scans. Now this technology can be used as a secure way to identify people.”

For a merchant to use a secure identification device under the new law, the scan of the biometrics would need to be verified against government-issued identification. In addition, the following must have occurred:
• The picture identification was previously authenticated by an electronic process;
• The identity of the person was verified through a commercially available knowledge-based electronic authentication process; and
• The authenticated picture ID was securely linked to biometrics collected contemporaneously from the individual.

“The use of this technology is completely voluntary to both consumers and retailers, so no consumers will be forced to give up their biometric data against their will, and no retailers will be forced to purchase equipment to support the use of this technology if they don’t want to,” VanderWall said. “This technology is already being used at the Detroit Metro Airport, and now I believe it will be useful to major retailers as it continues to develop.”

The governor signed SB 543 into law on Thursday.