Texas Alleges Facebook’s Facial Recognition Practices Violated Privacy Shields
(The Hill) – Texas is suing Facebook over allegations that the social media giant violated the privacy of Texans through the company’s past use of facial recognition technology, according to a lawsuit filed Monday .
“Facebook will no longer take advantage of people and their children for the purpose of profit at the expense of their safety and well-being,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) said in a statement. “This is yet another example of Big Tech’s deceptive business practices and it must stop. I will continue to fight for the privacy and safety of Texans.
The lawsuit alleges that Facebook, now under parent company Meta, captured the Texans’ biometric data for commercial purposes without their informed consent and failed to destroy the collected identifiers within a reasonable time.
The lawsuit also alleges that Facebook violated the privacy of people who were not even users of the platform by collecting biometric IDs from photos and videos “innocently uploaded by friends and family members. who have used Facebook”.
“There was no way for these non-users to know about or challenge this exploitation,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. A person familiar with the matter told the Journal that the suit is seeking civil penalties in the hundreds of billions of dollars.
A spokesperson for Meta denied the allegations in the lawsuit.
“These allegations are without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Facebook has settled a separate class action lawsuit, based on Illinois privacy law, over its use of facial recognition for about $650 million in 2020.
The company has since said it will stop using facial recognition, at least for now.
In November, Facebook announced it would shut down its facial recognition system and remove more than a billion individual facial recognition templates. The system offered users the ability to be automatically notified when they appeared in photos or videos posted by others, as well as suggestions for users to “tag” themselves and others in the photos and videos they post.
Paxton’s complaint acknowledges Facebook’s announcement to end facial recognition, but says it’s not enough.
“By this point, however, he had spent over a decade covertly exploiting Texans and their personal information to perfect his AI device. There can be no free pass for Facebook that illegally invades the privacy rights of tens of millions of Texas residents by hijacking their data and embezzling one of their most personal and prized possessions – recordings of their facial geometry – at risk from hackers and bad actors, all to build an AI-powered virtual reality empire,” the complaint states.