(ConservativeHub.com) – The amount of information social media platforms collect from users is astronomical. Even so, most people consent to release certain data when they sign up for their accounts. Yet, a lawsuit in Texas alleges one social media giant failed to get permission to collect personal data and seeks a massive payout from the company.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Meta Platforms Inc, the parent company of Facebook, for allegedly violating the state’s personal biometric data protection law. Paxton said the platform secretly obtained personal information about users for profit from 2010 to 2021, breaking the state law requiring users to consent before platforms can collect such data. He also alleges Facebook shared the information with third parties and failed to destroy it promptly, a practice state law doesn’t condone.
The lawsuit targets the facial recognition used in the tag suggestions feature. If users clicked on people’s faces in photos, the platform would suggest tagging the person if they had a Facebook account. Users didn’t need permission from those they tagged to post their photos or tag them. A tag would automatically link to the tagged person’s profile page.
The Texas law allows for a $25,000 penalty per violation. The AG said the number of infringements is in the tens of millions, which is why he’s seeking hundreds of billions of dollars in civil damages.
Meta’s Response and Potential Complications
Meta announced it would defend against the claims, denying their legitimacy. The company says it always provided notice to users and asked for consent before using the data.
Meta already faced a lawsuit in 2015 for violating Illinois’s biometric privacy law, which is similar to the Texas legislation. In this case, the company also claimed it gave users the right to opt-out or consent. It tried to have a judge dismiss the claims but failed and eventually settled for $650 million.
In November 2021, after Texas sent a subpoena to probe the company’s program, Facebook stopped using the facial recognition software.
Meta’s track record on this issue in court isn’t great. It’s already settled a case and stopped using the technology at the heart of the matter. Those things will likely play into the Texas lawsuit. If the state is successful with its claim, state-level privacy laws could significantly impact how Big Tech approaches privacy in the future.
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