Texas AG Sues Meta Over Collection and Use of Biometric Data
On February 14, 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton brought suit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, over the company’s collection and use of biometric data. The suit alleges that Meta collected and used Texans’ facial geometry data in violation of the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act (“CUBI”) and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“DTPA”). The lawsuit is significant because it represents the first time the Texas Attorney General’s Office has brought suit under CUBI.
The suit focuses on Meta’s “tag suggestions” feature, which the company has since retired. The feature scanned faces in users’ photos and videos to suggest “tagging” (i.e., identify by name) users who appeared in the photos and videos. In the complaint, Attorney General Ken Paxton alleged that Meta, collected and analyzed individuals’ facial geometry data (which constitutes biometric data under CUBI) without their consent, shared the data with third parties, and failed to destroy the data in a timely matter, all in violation of CUBI and the DTPA. CUBI regulates the collection and use of biometric data for commercial purposes, and the DTPA prohibits false, misleading, or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.
Among other forms of relief, the complaint seeks an injunction enjoining Meta from violating these laws, a $25,000 civil penalty for each violation of CUBI, and a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation of the DTPA. The suit follows Facebook’s $650 million class-action settlement over alleged violations of Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act and the company’s discontinuance of the tag suggestions feature last year.