The lawsuit, filed in the 71st District Court in Marshall, alleges that “Facebook unlawfully captured the biometric identifiers of Texans for a commercial purpose without their informed consent, disclosed those identifiers to others, and failed to destroy collected identifiers within a reasonable time.”
“Facebook knowingly captured biometric information for its own commercial benefit, to train and improve its facial-recognition technology, and thereby create a powerful artificial intelligence apparatus that reaches all corners of the world and ensnares even those who have intentionally avoided using Facebook Services,” the complaint argues.
At a press conference after the lawsuit was filed, Paxton said that the potential violations under state could “could amount to literally billions of dollars in damages” since the two laws cited — the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act — amount to $10,000 and $25,000 per violation, respectively.
“By 2011, we had over 12 million Texans using Facebook. By 2021, we had over 20 million users of Facebook in Texas,” said Paxton.
The lawsuit requested the order a jury trial and pay the full amount of civil penalties for each violation of state law.
In November 2021 — after paying the state of Illinois $650 million for its actions — Meta announced that it would “shut down the Face Recognition system on Facebook as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in our products.”
Paxton told reporters at the press conference that “a lot of technology lawsuits are filed here, so [Marshall] seemed like an appropriate place to file this lawsuit.”
Asked directly if the purpose of filing the lawsuit on the first day of early voting for the March 1 primary election in Marshall had “anything to do” with it being in the district of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), one of Paxton’s Republican challengers, Paxton said, “Zero.”
“This has been planned for a long time,” said Paxton. “We would have filed it either way whether he was in the race or not.”
“Facebook will no longer take advantage of people and their children with the intent to turn a profit at the expense of one’s safety and well-being,” said Paxton in a press release. “This is yet another example of Big Tech’s deceitful business practices and it must stop. I will continue to fight for Texans’ privacy and security.”
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Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.