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Texas Sues Google for Alleged Unauthorized Use of Residents’ Biometric Data

October 20, 2022 by Dan McCue
Texas Sues Google for Alleged Unauthorized Use of Residents’ Biometric Data
(AP Photo)

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Google on Thursday, alleging the tech giant has unlawfully captured and used the biometric data of millions of Texans without properly obtaining their informed consent to do so. 

The 32-page complaint, filed in Midland County State District Court, alleges Google has collected millions of biometric identifiers, including voiceprints and records of face geometry, from Texans through its products and services like Google Photos, Google Assistant and Nest Hub Max. 

Google’s exploitation of the personal information of Texans for its own commercial interests is a knowing violation of the state’s Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act, claims Paxton, who is currently running for reelection against Democrat Rochelle Garza, a Brownsville attorney. 

Paxton previously filed lawsuits against Google for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act and for deceptively tracking users’ location without their consent.  

In the latest complaint, Paxton claims, “Many Texans do not realize that their contributions to the tech giant’s financial growth include offering up for inspection two of the most uniquely personal features any individual has to call their own. 

“The proliferation of the commercialization of Texans’ personal biometric identifiers is as invasive as it is dangerous,” the lawsuit continues. “Unlike passwords, credit cards, Social Security numbers, and even names, biometric identifiers (like face geometry and voiceprints) form an inherent part of our unique, human identity and cannot be simply erased or replaced when stolen. 

“Indeed, in 2011, Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt warned that facial-recognition technology risked ‘crossing the creepy line’ and assured the world that Google ‘would not build a database capable of recognizing individual faces.’

“Today, Google has a new CEO and a new ethos, having tossed CEO Schmidt’s promises into the rubbish heap alongside Google’s abandoned ‘don’t be evil’” mantra,” the lawsuit says.

“Google has now spent years unlawfully capturing the faces and voices of both non-consenting users and nonusers throughout Texas — including our children and grandparents, who simply have no idea that their biometric information is being mined for profit by a global corporation.”

Paxton is seeking injunctive relief and damages of up to $25,000 per violation.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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