Texas law requires companies to obtain user consent before collecting biometric data, including retinal data and "facial geometry".
On Monday, the state of Texas sued Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta for hundreds of billions of dollars, alleging the social giant invaded the privacy of Texans using facial recognition technology without obtaining consent.
The lawsuit alleges that Facebook and Instagram tracked the photos and videos people posted on their accounts using facial recognition technology and seeks a staggering amount of damages.
Every violation of state law will come with a fine of up to $25,000, meaning the social media giant founded by Mark Zuckerberg could be fined hundreds of billions of dollars, or even a trillion dollars if the state gets its way.
Meta shares fell 0.6% on Monday afternoon, leaving the company's market value at just under $600 billion.
"The state is bringing this lawsuit to hold Facebook accountable for covertly violating Texas law for more than a decade," the lawsuit says. “Facebook knowingly collects biometric information for its own commercial benefit in order to train and improve its facial recognition technology and thereby create a powerful artificial intelligence (“AI”) machine that reaches all corners of the world and ensnares even those who deliberately avoid using the Services. Facebook.
The Meta on Monday told The Post that the lawsuit was baseless. "These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves," a Meta spokesperson said.
In 2020, Meta settled a similar lawsuit brought under Illinois privacy laws for a whopping $550 million. Then, in November 2021, the company said it was permanently shutting down its facial recognition system and deleting the records of over a billion people, citing "growing public concern" about the technology.
Texas argues that Meta should still be punished even though it has stopped using the technology.
“Facebook has finally said it has stopped its invasive and illegal facial recognition methods at the end of 2021,” Texas argued in its lawsuit. “However, by that time, the company had been secretly using Texans and their personal information for more than a decade to improve the artificial intelligence apparatus. There can be no free access for Facebook.
The lawsuit also suggested that while Meta says it has deleted facial recognition data collected by Facebook, it may be storing data collected through Instagram, WhatsApp, or its metaverse apps.