Texas sues Meta for gathering millions of face scans without consent

Austin, Texas - Texas is suing Facebook's parent company Meta over facial recognition data it claims was gathered without consent.

Meta is in hot legal water with the Lone Star state.
Meta is in hot legal water with the Lone Star state.  © Collage: IMAGO / Panthermedia, NurPhoto (stock)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Meta for allegedly using unauthorized biometric data collected from millions of Texans.

In a suit filed by the Texas attorney general's office, Paxton claimed that Facebook captured and used the biometric data without properly obtaining their informed consent to do so, in violation of Texas law.

Paxton alleged that the social media giant has been storing millions of biometric identifiers, defined by statute as "a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or record of hand or face geometry," contained in photos and videos uploaded by users of the app.

By this illegal activity, Facebook exploited the personal information of users and non-users alike to grow its empire and reap historic windfall profits, he said.

According to the AG, the company repeatedly captured biometric identifiers without consent billions of times, in knowing violation of Texas' Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act and the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Not their first rodeo

Face scans have baggage, like data and privacy issues.
Face scans have baggage, like data and privacy issues.  © IMAGO / Panthermedia (stock)

The suit noted that unlike other identifiers, such as social security numbers, which can be changed when stolen or misappropriated, biometric identifiers are permanent.

Once a biometric identifier is captured, a bad actor can access and exploit the identifier for the rest of the victim's life.

In November last year, Facebook announced plans to stop using the facial recognition software, which could easily identify people in photos and videos posted on the social media platform.

The company added then that it would delete all the information it has collected over the years using this software, which come to more than a billion people's faces.

Facebook reportedly settled a similar class action case last year for $650 million for allegedly violating Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act by storing data about people's faces without their consent.

For many years, Facebook allowed people to opt in to a facial-recognition setting that would automatically tag them in pictures and videos, a step which brought in heavy traffic to Facebook pages.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Panthermedia, NurPhoto (stock)

More on the topic Facebook: