The lawsuit claims that Facebook’s auto-tag feature actually served to harvest tens of millions of Texas consumers’ biometric identifiers.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that the social media company violated state privacy laws by collecting consumers’ biometric details without their consent.
According to Reuters, the lawsuit accuses Facebook of capturing users’ biometric information through uploaded photographs and videos. In his complaint, Paxton says that Facebook never informed Texas residents that their data would be shared with third parties.
“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,” Paxton said in a statement.
“This is yet another example of Big Tech’s deceitful business practices, and it must stop,” Paxton said. “I will continue to fight for Texans’ privacy and security.”
The lawsuit cites the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act, which requires companies to obtain user consent before collecting biometric information.
Paxton says that Facebook violated the CUBI Act’s conditions by scanning user photographs without permission, ostensibly under the guise of an automated “tagging” system—something that Texas claims is tantamount to mass biometric data collection.
Altogether, the attorney general alleges that Facebook “captured the biometric identifiers of millions of Texans without their informed consent, for a commercial purpose, and failed to destroy them in a reasonable time.”
A spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said that the lawsuit lacks merit.
“These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” the spokesperson said.
However, this is hardly the first time that Facebook has been criticized for manipulating users’ biometric details. As LegalReader.com reported before, Illinois also sued the social media company, making allegations similar to Paxton’s. Last year, Facebook agreed to settle the lawsuit for an estimated $650 million.
Facebook, notes The New York Times, recently announced that it would delete all the facial recognition data it has collected from about 1 billion consumers.
The Texas complaint, adds Reuters, has been filed in a state court in Marshall, Texas.
Paxton’s office estimates that 20.5 million Texans have a Facebook account.
“The scope of Facebook’s misconduct is staggering,” the lawsuit says. “Facebook repeatedly captured Texans’ biometric identifiers without consent not hundreds, not thousands, or millions of times—but billions of times.”
While the lawsuit does not request specific monetary damages, insiders told Reuters that Paxton is seeking billions of dollars in recompense for Texans whose information may have been wrongfully appropriated by Facebook.