Texas sues Google over alleged ‘indiscriminate’ biometric data collection


CNN Business

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Google on Thursday, alleging the tech giant violated the state’s biometric privacy law by “indiscriminately” collecting users’ voiceprints and facial recognition data. and non-users of the company’s products without their consent.

The lawsuit, filed in the Midland County District Court in Texas, alleges that the broad application of facial recognition technology in Google Photos, as well as its use of voice recognition technology in its line of smart speakers and other home products, is a violation of the State Biometric Identifier Capture or Use Act.

In a statement, Google (GOOG) pledged to fight the allegations in court and accused Paxton of “misrepresenting our products in another breath-taking lawsuit.”

“Google Photos helps you organize photos of people, grouping similar faces together, so you can easily find old photos,” said Google spokesperson José Castañeda. “Of course this is only visible to you and you can easily disable this feature if you wish and we do not use photos or videos in Google Photos for advertising purposes. The same goes for Voice Match and Face Match on Nest Hub Max, which are features disabled by default that give users the option to let Google Assistant recognize their voice or face to display their information.

In Google Photos, Google analyzes uploaded images to identify and categorize photographed subjects, including people who may not have known their faces would be analyzed or stored, according to the complaint. The company also allegedly listened to Texans “regardless of whether a speaker consented to Google’s blind voice impression,” according to the complaint.

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The complaint describes Google’s Nest Hub Max, a smart home display with a built-in camera, as “a modern-day Eye of Sauron, constantly watching and waiting to identify a face it knows.”

“Across the state, everyday Texans have become unwitting cash cows exploited by Google for profit,” the complaint states.

Texas is one of the few states to have a law governing the use of biometric data, and this is the second time Texas has invoked the 2009 law to bring a lawsuit against a company. In February, the state claimed that a now-shutdown Facebook photo tagging tool — which was the subject of a $650 million biometric confidentiality agreement in Illinois last year — had also been tagged. a violation of Texas biometric law.

Texas has several lawsuits pending against Google, including two other consumer protection cases and an antitrust case targeting Google’s dominance in digital advertising.

– CNN’s Rachel Metz contributed to this report.


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