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14 Feb, 2022 20:51

Texas sues Meta over facial recognition

The attorney general’s office in the southern US state claims that Facebook violated users’ privacy rights
Texas sues Meta over facial recognition

A lawsuit was filed against Facebook, which changed its company name to Meta last year, on Monday by the Texas attorney general’s office, alleging the social media corporation violated state privacy rights with facial recognition technology. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit in a state district court in Marshall, seeking hundreds of billions in civic damages, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a statement on the suit, Paxton accused the social media giant of “harvesting Texans’ most personal information” through facial recognition software it used from 2010 through last year for “corporate profit.” The software would scan and store facial recognition data from users’ photographs. 

“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,” Paxton said. 

Facebook’s facial recognition software has drawn legal challenges in the past, with the social media platform settling a 2015 lawsuit in Illinois for a reported $650 million. The lawsuit was similar to Texas’ complaint, as it argued Facebook’s software violated the state’s biometric privacy law, which prohibits people’s biometric data from being stored without consent. The software was discontinued last November. 

In a blog post by Jerome Pesenti, the company’s vice president of artificial intelligence, it was suggested that there are not yet “clear rules” on how such software can be applied. 

“We need to weigh the positive use cases for facial recognition against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules,” Pesenti wrote.

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