Texas sues Meta for using facial recognition software

The Texas attorney general said Facebook, now Meta Platforms, violated state law by using user-uploaded photos and videos to capture “biometric identifiers.”

Noah Berger/AFP via Getty Images

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Prosecuted


Facebook

the parent company on Monday about its past use of facial recognition software.

The lawsuit says than Facebook, now known as


Metaplatforms

(symbol: FB), violated Texas state law by using user-uploaded photos and videos to capture “biometric identifiers”, specifically facial geometry, to enhance its artificial intelligence software and “to expand his empire and reap historic windfall profits”.

Asked to respond, Meta said “these allegations are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

The state said that “Texans who used Facebook’s social media services were unaware that Facebook – without their permission – was capturing biometric information from photos and videos that users uploaded for the sole purpose of share with their family and friends.

The lawsuit adds that “unbeknownst to users, Facebook was disclosing users’ personal information to other entities that further exploited them.”

The lawsuit said Facebook violated two Texas state laws — the Texas Capture of Use of Biometric Identifier Act and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act — “billions of times.” Based on the penalties provided by these laws, the damages could theoretically amount to hundreds of billions of dollars.

Facebook shut down its facial recognition system in November 2021 in response to widespread criticism of the technology.

“People who have signed up will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos and we will remove individual facial recognition patterns from over 1 billion people,” the company said at the time. “There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still providing a clear set of rules governing its use. Amid this continuing uncertainty, we believe it is appropriate to limit the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases.

Facebook also noted at the time that there are many useful applications for facial recognition technology, such as unlocking cellphones, that maintain user privacy and control.

Last yearFacebook has agreed to pay $650 million to settle a class action lawsuit covering similar claims for violations of Illinois state law.

The Internal Revenue Service last week abandoned the use of facial recognition technology to authenticate online accounts. The system, which relied on a private company called ID.me, has been criticized in Congress by Republicans and Democrats.

Meta shares fell 1.2% on Monday to $217. the


S&P500

fell 0.3%, and the


Nasdaq

increased by 0.2%.

Write to Eric J. Savitz at [email protected]

Margie D. Carlisle