Meta sued in Texas over facial recognition data without consent
According to the state's attorney general, the business frequently acquired and sold biometric data in images and videos without customers' authorization for more than a decade.
The Texas attorney general filed a privacy complaint against Meta, Facebook's parent company, on Monday for allegedly gathering face recognition data without users' explicit authorization.
The attorney general, Ken Paxton, claimed the network violated a consumer protection statute by gathering and commercializing biometric data in images and videos without users' informed consent for more than a decade. According to Paxton, Facebook also shared the data with third parties and neglected to destroy it in a timely manner.
In a statement, Paxton said “Facebook will no longer take advantage of people and their children with the intent to turn a profit at the expense of one’s safety and well-being," adding that “This is yet another example of Big Tech’s deceitful business practices, and it must stop. I will continue to fight for Texans’ privacy and security.”
The case adds to Meta's legal woes, as local and national officials target giant internet firms for their power and tactics. In a privacy deal with the Federal Trade Commission in 2019, Facebook agreed to add extra layers of supervision in exchange for a $5 billion fine. The Federal Trade Commission and virtually every state attorney general are also attempting to disband Meta for allegedly squashing competition in order to retain its dominance in social networking.
A spokeswoman for Meta said the claims are without merit, "and we will defend ourselves vigorously."
Texas is suing a year after Facebook paid $650 million to resolve a similar class-action case in Illinois for using facial tagging without users' permission. Facebook's attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed was unsuccessful. Under fire over its use of facial recognition data, the business said in November that it will destroy the face recognition data of over one billion customers.
In the absence of federal privacy law, dozens of states have implemented their own privacy, content regulation, and antitrust legislation. Texas approved legislation in 2009 prohibiting the collection and use of face recognition and other biometric data, such as fingerprints and retina scans. Illinois has its own data privacy regulation governing face recognition and other sensitive biometric data.
Paxton stated at a press conference on Monday that he is seeking "billions of dollars" in damages. There were an estimated 20 million Texas users, and he stated each infraction may result in a $25,000 fine.