Texas Sues Meta Over Facebook Facial Recognition: State Seeks BILLIONS of Civil Fines

Texas Sues Meta Over Facebook Facial Recognition: State Seeks BILLIONS of Civil Fines

Texas is suing Facebook parent company Meta Platforms Inc and seeking billions of dollars in civil penalties, alleging the social media giant’s use of facial recognition technology was a violation of the state’s privacy protections, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a lawsuit in the state district court in Marshall, said the company’s capture of facial geometry in photos uploaded by users between 2010 and 2021 resulted in “tens of millions of violations” of Texas law, according to The Wall. Street magazine.

“Facebook secretly collects Texans’ most personal information — photos and videos — for their own corporate profits,” Paxton said.

“Texas law has prohibited such harvesting without informed consent for over 20 years. While ordinary Texans have used Facebook to innocently share photos of their loved ones with friends and family, we now know that Facebook has blatantly ignored Texas laws for the past decade.”

The lawsuit is the latest crisis facing the troubled tech giant, which has seen its share prices tumble since it announced the loss of users for the first time in the company’s history last year.

It also changed its name to Meta last year after a series of scandals sparked by a whistleblower’s complaint that the company was putting profit before people.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to the media during the campaign for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at DPS headquarters January 27, 2022 in Weslaco, Texas.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to the media during the campaign for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at DPS headquarters January 27, 2022 in Weslaco, Texas.

Jeff Wieland (right), director of accessibility at Facebook, watches as blind engineer Matt King demonstrates facial recognition technology during a teleconference at Facebook headquarters.

Jeff Wieland (right), director of accessibility at Facebook, watches as blind engineer Matt King demonstrates facial recognition technology during a teleconference at Facebook headquarters.

Meanwhile, Meta said in a statement that the claims against Facebook are “unfounded and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

The parent company added that Facebook users have always given consent to use such services before shutting down their facial recognition software.

In 2015, the social media giant previously settled a separate $640 million lawsuit in Illinois over its facial recognition technology.

This lawsuit, which was filed under the Illinois biometric privacy law, is similar to those filed under Texas law, with both laws requiring the consent of individuals before their biometric identifiers can be captured.

Facebook tried to dismiss the class action lawsuit, however those efforts were unsuccessful, resulting in a settlement in 2020.

In the Illinois class action lawsuit, Facebook’s lawyers said state law did not apply to their process of identifying users in photos, and added that it also gave users the option to opt out of the feature.

The much larger civil penalties required in the recently filed Texas lawsuit could have serious implications for big tech companies in the face of privacy laws.

Texas sent its civil subpoena to Meta, where it requested information about facial recognition software, only after learning of Facebook’s Illinois class-action settlement.

Meanwhile, Facebook has announced that it will be phasing out its facial recognition system in November 2021.

Blind engineer Matt King demonstrates face recognition technology on a social network.

Blind engineer Matt King demonstrates face recognition technology on a social network.

The Facebook Meta logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California on October 28, 2021.

The Facebook Meta logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California on October 28, 2021.

Following the company’s announcement in early November, Texas officials requested that the relevant data be retained while the state continues its investigation.

“These procedural safeguards are especially important in our digital world because technology now allows the wholesale collection and storage of unique human biometric identifiers — identifiers that cannot be changed if compromised or misused,” U.S. District Judge James Donato wrote in a class action lawsuit. .

“When an online service simply ignores Illinois procedures, as Facebook allegedly did, an individual’s right to maintain their biometric privacy vanishes into thin air.”

The Texas lawsuit also accuses Facebook of obtaining patents for systems “where the faces of consumers wandering through stores or standing at checkouts are scanned and matched with their social media profiles.”

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has since requested that Meta not remove any facial pattern information for Texas residents, past or present, despite the social media network saying such information is not material and may be removed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.