Google sued by Texas attorney general over alleged biometric data violations

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued Google over allegations the tech giant violated the state’s Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier (CUBI) Act, his office announced Thursday. 

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The lawsuit argues Google violated the CUBI Act by allegedly collecting biometric data like face geometry or voiceprints and using it to serve the company’s commercial interests without getting proper informed consent from Texans, according to the press release from Paxton’s office. 

The tech giant has purportedly collected the data through products like Google Photos, Google Assistant and Net Hub Max since at least 2015, the suit claims.

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The commercial purposes Google allegedly used the biometric data for include improving its artificial intelligence and its hardware, the lawsuit claimed, arguing Texans "have become unwitting cash cows being milked by Google for profits."

Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda told FOX Business that Paxton is "once again mischaracterizing our products in another breathless lawsuit."

Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Oct. 28, 2021. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"For example, Google Photos helps you organize pictures of people by grouping similar faces so you can easily find old photos," Castaneda said. "Of course, this is only visible to you. You can easily turn off this feature if you choose, and we do not use photos or videos in Google Photos for advertising purposes.

"The same is true for Voice Match and Face Match on Nest Hub Max, which are off-by-default features that allow users to let Google Assistant recognize their voice or face to show their information."

The company "will set the record straight in court," Castaneda said.

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The Texas attorney general has previously filed lawsuits against Google related to alleged monopolization in digital advertising and purported violations of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. 

The Google app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration July 13, 2021.  (REUTERS/Dado Ruvic / Reuters Photos)

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Paxton also sued Meta Platforms in February over purported CUBI Act violations related to its now-ended use of facial recognition for Facebook photo-tagging, allegations the company has refuted, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The CUBI Act states a violation can result in a civil penalty of up to $25,000. 
 

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