Texas sues Google over user data collection
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed suit against Google over its alleged collection of state residents' facial and voice data without their consent.
"Google has, since at least 2015, collected biometric data from innumerable Texans and used their faces and their voices to serve Google’s commercial ends," Paxton said, according to the New York Post. "The proliferation of the commercialization of Texans' personal biometric identifiers is as invasive as it is dangerous."
The company's actions turn Texans into "unwitting cash cows being milked by Google for profits," the suit claims. The suit, in particular, points to "face grouping," a feature that employs user facial data. Paxton asserts that, should Google capture other people's visages in the same photo, the features could illicitly store their data. Even if the user consents to the feature, passersby or other unwitting individuals may not have done so.
Google spokesperson José Castañeda told the Post that Paxton was "once again mischaracterizing our products in another breathless lawsuit."
"For example, Google Photos helps you organize pictures of people, by grouping similar faces, so you can easily find old photos... 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," he told the outlet. "The same is true for Voice Match and Face Match on Nest Hub Max, which are off-by-default features that give users the option to let Google Assistant recognize their voice or face to show their information. We will set the record straight in court."
The basis of Paxton's suit is a Texas state law that requires companies to obtain user consent to collect biometric data. Google potentially faces a $25,000 fine for every violation.
Paxton has previously pursued legal action against Google, filing an anti-trust suit in 2020 alleging that the firm engaged in "anti-competitive conduct, exclusionary practices and deceptive misrepresentation." He has also sparred with social media giant Twitter on multiple occasions. In June of this year, he launched a probe into the platform over allegedly false reports from the company about the presence of bot accounts.