Texas is suing Meta over a feature that automatically tagged users in photos
Texas law prohibits the collection and sharing of biometric identifiers without the consent of the individuals.
Remember how Facebook used to automatically tag you in other people’s photos? “Tag suggestions” was able to scan photos and tag users based on image and facial recognition.
Well, that same feature is under the gun, and now the state of Texas is suing Meta (Facebook’s parent company), claiming the company harvested the biometric data of millions of Texans without their consent.
“Facebook has been secretly harvesting Texans’ most personal information—photos and videos—for its own corporate profit,” says Attorney General Ken Paxton.
“Texas law has prohibited such harvesting without informed consent for over 20 years. While ordinary Texans have been using Facebook to innocently share photos of loved ones with friends and family, we now know that Facebook has been brazenly ignoring Texas law for the last decade,” he continues.
Meta plans to fight the case in court
READ MORE: Texas law that stops social sites from moderating is on hold
Meta responded by saying that it is ready to defend the case in court. “These claims are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” a spokesperson for Meta said in a statement.
Facebook shut down its facial recognition feature back in November and didn’t specify why, other than claiming “growing societal concerns.”
Another reason could be that Meta dished out $650 million in a lawsuit settlement for pretty much the same thing Texas is suing Meta for.
“Facebook will no longer take advantage of people and their children with the intent to turn a profit at the expense of one’s safety and well-being,” Attorney General Paxton said in a statement. “This is yet another example of Big Tech’s deceitful business practices and it must stop. I will continue to fight for Texans’ privacy and security.”
So what’s the end game here for Texas? What kind of damages are they seeking if they end up winning this lawsuit?
The state is seeking civil penalties worth hundreds of billions of dollars, reports the Wall Street Journal. Additionally, Texas can levy fines of up to $25,000 per offense under the Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act.
So yea, that’s a lot of money that’s going to exchange hands if Meta loses this lawsuit. And I’m sure Meta won’t go down without a fight. “It’s a bold move Cotton, let’s see if it pays off.”
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