Texas attorney general Ken Paxton has sued Google for allegedly collecting and using biometric data belonging to millions of Texans without proper consent.
The Texas AG says that Google allegedly used products and services like Google Photos, Google Assistant, and Nest Hub Max to collect a vast array of biometric identifiers, including voiceprints and records of face geometry since 2015.
This would be a violation of the state’s biometric privacy act (aka the Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act) which requires companies to get request the users’ consent when collecting their biometric identifiers (i.e., “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or record of hand or face geometry”).
“For more than a decade, Texas has prohibited companies from capturing Texans’ biometric data—including the unique characteristics of an individual’s face and voice—without their informed, advance consent,” the petition reads [PDF].
“In blatant defiance of that law, 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.”
Stream of lawsuits targeting Google’s privacy violations and more
Paxton has filed other lawsuits against Google for invading Texans’ privacy while using its products and services.
For instance, in January 2022, the Texas AG sued Google for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.
Less than a week later, Paxton filed another lawsuit over Google alleged deceptive tracking of its users’ location without consent and the use of location data for targeted ads.
“Google’s indiscriminate collection of the personal information of Texans, including very sensitive information like biometric identifiers, will not be tolerated,” Paxton added today. “I will continue to fight Big Tech to ensure the privacy and security of all Texans.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) fined Google $60 million in August for misleading Australian Android users regarding collecting and using their location data for almost two years, between January 2017 and December 2018.
In January, France’s National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) also fined Google $170 million for making it difficult to reject tracking cookies by hiding the option behind multiple clicks, an infringement of the freedom of consent of Internet users.
Previously, Google was fined $2.72 billion for abusing its dominant market position to tweak search results, $1.7 billion for anti-competitive practices in online advertising, €220 million for favoring its services to the disadvantage of competitors, and $11.3 million for aggressive data collection.