As much as society loves technology, it’s no secret that it comes with just as many problems as solutions, especially within apps. Many people love the convenience of the facial recognition feature of the newer smartphone models, however, Facebook parent company, Meta, has recently found itself in hot water once again regarding its own facial recognition tool.
A lawsuit was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday in the Texas Harrison County District Court claiming that the Facebook photo-tagging feature did not get the formal consent of those tagged in photos before gathering their facial recognition data. According to the lawsuit, Facebook “secretly forced millions of Texans into a facial-recognition scheme without their informed consent. As a result, for the next ten years, tens of millions of Texans who appeared in media uploaded to Facebook unsuspectingly had records of their facial geometry captured by Facebook.”
Facebook has since discontinued the feature, but the lawsuit states that the company had already violated the state’s consumer protection and biometric data privacy laws (passed in 2009) billions of times by collecting biometric data beforehand. While some users might have been aware that the feature collected personal facial recognition data, the problem lies with others who do not use the app being tagged and their personal data being collected against their knowledge and consent. This is not the first time the social media platform has been under fire. These claims come shortly after a previous class-action lawsuit over the same issue was filed in the state of Illinois, afterwhich Facebook announced it would delete data from at least 600 million users.
According to the lawsuit, the facial recognition software has been under a multi-year investigation by Texas officials, and calls for the imposition of a $25,000 civil penalty on Meta per violation of Texas’s biometric law and $10,000 per violation of Texas consumer protection law. The suit also points out that while Facebook discontinued the facial recognition program, Meta has “made no such commitment with respect to any of the other platforms or operations under its corporate umbrella, such as instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Reality Labs, or its upcoming virtual-reality metaverse.”
A spokesperson for the parent company stated that the claims were without merit, and announced the company will be defending themselves, but no further statements have been made.