Texas is suing Meta over Facebook facial recognition

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued Meta over its use of facial recognition. The lawsuit, filed today in state district court, claims Meta’s Facebook photo tagging system violated the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier (CUBI) Act. It’s seeking financial damages and an end to any unauthorized use of Texans’ biometric data.

The CUBI restrictions, which were passed in 2009, require obtaining informed consent before collecting biometric data like facial geometry. The lawsuit alleges that Facebook scanned user photos without asking for permission and downplayed the fact that its automated tagging system amounted to mass biometric data collection. It also echoes an earlier lawsuit’s claim that Instagram scans images for facial recognition, allegedly contradicting statements in its user agreement. In a statement sent to The Verge by Dina El-Kassaby, Meta responded that “these claims are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”

Altogether, the attorney general’s office alleges Meta has “captured the biometric identifiers of millions of Texans without their informed consent, for a commercial purpose, and failed to destroy them in a reasonable time.” The suit seeks $25,000 in civil penalties for each CUBI violation and an additional $10,000 per violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act — which The Wall Street Journal notes would theoretically total hundreds of billions of dollars.