In a lawsuit filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton today, the state of Texas “alleges that Facebook unlawfully captured the biometric identifiers of Texans for a commercial purpose without their informed consent, disclosed those identifiers to others, and failed to destroy collected identifiers within a reasonable time,” which it says is in violation of the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act, an information privacy law passed in 2009.
“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. I will continue to fight for Texans’ privacy and security.”
In its report on the Texas suit, the Wall Street Journal lays out the history of a similar case brought by Illinois in 2015 that was settled in 2020 for $650 million.State-of-Texas-v.-Meta-Platforms-Inc.-OCR
“Facebook has, for over a decade, built an Artificial Intelligence empire on the backs of Texans by deceiving them while capturing their most intimate data, thereby putting their well-being, safety, and security at risk,” says the Texas suit, arguing that “Facebook’s omnipresent empire was built on deception, lies and brazen abuses of Texan’s privacy rights– all for Facebook’s own commercial gain.”
Facebook announced it would end its use of facial recognition technology in November 2021. The company cited “ongoing uncertainty” about the use of the technology in society, concluding that “we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.