Texas sues Facebook over facial-recognition practices

A Meta spokesperson said the claims were without merit

Published

The Texas attorney general's office sued Meta's Facebook on Monday (February 14th), alleging that the social media giant violated state privacy protections with facial-recognition technology that collected the biometric data of millions of Texans without their consent.

The lawsuit accuses Facebook of capturing biometric information from photos and videos that users uploaded without consent, disclosing the information to others and failing to destroy it within a reasonable time.

"We are filing a lawsuit under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which is designed to protect consumers from deceptive trade practice and fraud and also under other Texas statutes relating to capturing bio metric identifiers," said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. "In violating the law, one of the things that Facebook did was not disclose to consumers that they were capturing their biometric identifiers, particularly facial geometry."

The lawsuit was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which cited a person familiar with the matter as saying that the state was seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in civil penalties.

Asked about the lawsuit, a Meta spokesperson said the claims were without merit.

The company said in a blog post in November that it was shutting down a facial recognition system and would delete more than a billion people's information.

It cited concerns about use of the technology and uncertainty over what the rules are regarding its use.

It also agreed to pay $650 million in 2020 to settle an Illinois state lawsuit that dealt with similar concerns.

The new lawsuit, which was filed in a state court in Marshall, Texas, says that 20.5 million Texans have a Facebook account.

Paxton said the lawsuit "could amount to literally billions of dollars in damages."