Texas attorney general sues over Facebook’s use of facial recognition

The suit is based on two Texas laws, including a 2009 rule that requires companies to get users’ permission before using personal biometric data for commercial purposes.

By Shelly BrisbinFebruary 17, 2022 12:18 pm, ,

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit this week against Meta, the parent company of Facebook. Paxton says Meta’s use of facial-recognition technology, which was discontinued on the Facebook site according to the company, violated a state law protecting the privacy of Texans’ personal biometric data.

A report in The Wall Street Journal says Paxton is seeking “hundreds of billions of dollars” in civil penalties. Tech expert Omar Gallaga tells Texas Standard that Paxton’s claim is based, in part, on a 2009 Texas law called the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act.

“This law makes it unlawful to use a person’s biometric data for commercial purposes without their consent,” Gallaga said. “It also requires that people who are collecting that data destroy it ‘within a reasonable amount of time,’ but no later than one year after the data was collected.

Highlights from this segment:

– Texas’ biometric data law calls for penalties in the amount of $25,000 per affected user. Paxton is also suing under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act, which requires companies to provide clear information to users about how their data is being used. That law includes a $10,000 penalty for each violation.

– Facebook settled an Illinois lawsuit based on a somewhat similar law in that state. The Texas law has far higher penalties that the Illinois law does.

– Paxton has also written to Meta, telling the company not to delete existing facial recognition data held on Texans. Having access to that data would indicate which individuals would be entitled to be compensated if the suit were successful.

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