Texas is suing Facebook’s parent company Meta, alleging that it illegally collected facial recognition data of state residents for commercial purposes without their consent for a decade.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit on Feb. 14 in Harrison County District Court and argued that Meta “has been storing millions of biometric identifiers” — identified as retina or iris scans, fingerprint, voiceprint, or record of hand or face geometry — through the discontinued photo-tagging feature in Facebook.
The feature analyzed faces in photos, including those of non-Facebook users, and recommended that users tag the people that it identified.
The lawsuit alleged that Facebook “secretly forced millions of Texans into a facial-recognition scheme without their informed consent” from 2010 to June 2011.
“As a result, for the next ten years, tens of millions of Texans who appeared in media uploaded to Facebook unsuspectingly had records of their facial geometry captured by Facebook,” the lawsuit alleged.
Facebook announced on November 2021 that it would suspend the tool after it settled a lawsuit in Illinois over the same issue for $650 million.
The social media giant at the time also said that it would delete the data it collected from at least 600 million users.
However, the Texas lawsuit said that Meta has “made no such commitment with respect to any of the other platforms or operations under its corporate umbrella, such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Reality Labs, or its upcoming virtual-reality metaverse.”
The lawsuit asks the court to impose a $25,000 civil penalty on Meta per violation of the biometric law in Texas and $10,000 per violation of Texas consumer protection law.
At a press conference, Paxton said he is seeking billions of dollars in damages.
A Meta spokesperson said in a statement that the lawsuit was “without merit.”
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