Texas AG sues Google over biometric data collection


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) announced on Thursday that his office had sued Google over its collection of biometric data, or measurements of human bodies and characteristics.

“The lawsuit alleges that Google, in yet another violation of Texans’ privacy, 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,” wrote Paxton’s office in the announcement.

Paxton says that Google has failed to obtain millions of Texans’ informed consent before collecting biometric data, violating the state’s Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act (CUBI).

CUBI outlaws the capture of biometric identifiers by people or companies without obtaining consent beforehand as well as the unauthorized sale of biometric data.

“Google’s indiscriminate collection of the personal information of Texans, including very sensitive information like biometric identifiers, will not be tolerated,” said Paxton of Thursday’s lawsuit.

“I will continue to fight Big Tech to ensure the privacy and security of all Texans.” 

The attorney general, who has been criticized for his conservative approaches to laws dealing with abortion and LGBTQ+ issues, has sued Google multiple times for alleged privacy infringements.

Paxton announced two lawsuits against the web company last January, one for misleading endorsements and another for tracking consumers’ locations without consent.

“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, people can see what’s going on with these big companies, Big Tech companies and the power and the levers that they exert over everyday Americans, is a little bit scary,” Paxton told The Hill last month, addressing his efforts against Big Tech.

The Texas Attorney General, who began his tenure in 2015, led the charge on an antitrust case against Google filed by 16 states and Puerto Rico.

A U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel doubled down on the case, first announced in Dec. 2020, in Sept. when he struck down Google’s attempt to dismiss it.

“Here, the court is absolutely right to reject Google’s attempt to throw out our case,” Paxton said at the time.

“We look forward to a jury hearing how this Big Tech giant abused its monopoly power by harming consumers to reap billions in monopoly profits.”

Google faces civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation if convicted of violating CUBI, according to Thursday’s lawsuit, which was especially critical of facial recognition technology as “inherently biased against women and racial minorities.”

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