Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a lawsuit Monday against Facebook parent company Meta Platforms, seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in penalties over Facebook’s previous use of facial recognition technology for allegedly violating state law on privacy protections.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) says Facebook “exploited” Texans without consent “billions of … [+] times.”
The lawsuit, filed in state court, claims Facebook’s use of facial recognition technology unlawfully “exploited” Texans without consent “billions of times.”
The attorney general’s office said in a news release Facebook recorded users’ facial features in “knowing violation” of a Texas law prohibiting the capture of biometric identifiers, including facial geometry.
Facebook stopped using facial recognition technology in November after massive backlash from privacy advocates and lawsuits over the practice.
A Meta spokesperson blasted the suit, telling Forbes: “These claims are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
“Facebook’s omnipresent empire was built on deception, lies and brazen abuses of Texans’ privacy rights—all for Facebook’s own commercial gain,” the lawsuit said.
Facebook in 2020 settled a class action lawsuit for $650 million in Illinois over violations of the state’s biometric privacy law, which is similar to Texas’ in requiring consent before biometric markers can be taken. Facebook started using facial recognition markers in 2010, which included alerting users if they appeared in pictures in which they weren’t tagged. The company announced last year it would delete facial recognition templates it had collected, saying in a statement: “Every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern, and we want to find the right balance.” Several other tech giants have been criticized and faced legal action over using facial recognition technology, including Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Paxton is reportedly under FBI investigation for allegedly using his position to help a donor and has been under indictment on felony state securities fraud charges since 2015. His legal troubles have led to high-profile challengers in the Republican primary for the attorney general post, including hard-right U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Facebook to Shut Down Use of Facial Recognition Technology (Bloomberg)
Hard-Right Rep. Louie Gohmert Exploring Run For Texas Attorney General (Forbes)