A Texas law known as the Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act (CUBI) prohibits people and entities from capturing a biometric identifier of an individual for a commercial purpose without informing the individual and getting their consent. (A biometric identifier is defined as a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or record of hand or face geometry.) This law also restricts selling, leasing, or otherwise disclosing the biometric identifier to another party. Violations of CUBI can result in a civil penalty of up to $25,000 per violation.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is tasked with enforcing CUBI and recovering penalties under the law. Last week. he sued Google for violating the law by failing to get informed consent from Texas residents before collecting their biometric data, such as voiceprints and records of face geometry. The lawsuit also claims that facial recognition technology is inherently biased against women and racial minorities. In its announcement of the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s office identified Google Photos, Google Assistant, and Nest Hub Max as some of the products and services at issue. Paxton declared that he is committed to fighting back against major tech companies on behalf of the privacy and security of Texas residents. He has suggested that tech companies hold too much influence over American life.
This is not the first time that Paxton has gone head to head with Google. He sued the tech company twice in January. The first lawsuit involved allegedly misleading endorsements that violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act. The second lawsuit involved allegedly deceptively tracking users’ locations without consent in violation of the same law. In 2020, Paxton also led a group of state attorneys general in bringing an antitrust lawsuit against Google. A federal judge rejected a Google motion to dismiss the case this fall, allowing it to continue toward a jury trial.
Photo Credit: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com