The Texas attorney general on Monday filed a privacy lawsuit against Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, for allegedly collecting facial recognition data without the clear permission of users.
Ken Paxton, the attorney general, said the social network violated a state consumer protection law by repeatedly capturing and commercializing biometric data in photos and videos for more than a decade without the informed consent of users. He said the company also shared the data with third parties and failed to destroy the information in a reasonable time.
“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,” Mr. Paxton said in a statement. “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.”
The lawsuit adds to Meta’s legal battles as local and national regulators take aim at large tech companies for their dominance and practices. In 2019, Facebook agreed to create new layers of oversight in a privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, for which it also paid a $5 billion fine. The F.T.C. and nearly every state attorney general are also seeking to break up Meta for allegedly squashing competition to maintain its dominance in social networking.
“These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” a spokeswoman for Meta said.
Texas is suing a year after Facebook settled a similar class-action lawsuit in Illinois for $650 million for using face tagging without the permission of users. Facebook had failed to get the lawsuit dismissed. Under scrutiny for its use of facial recognition data, the company also announced in November that it would delete the facial recognition data of more than one billion users.
In the absence of a federal privacy law, dozens of states have enacted their own laws on privacy, content moderation and antitrust. In 2009, Texas passed a law forbidding the collection and use of facial recognition and other biometric data, like fingerprinting and retina scans. Illinois also has its own data privacy law on facial recognition and other sensitive biometric information.
Mr. Paxton said at a news conference on Monday that he was seeking damages of “billions of dollars.” There were an estimated 20 million Texas users, and each violation, he said, can carry penalties of $25,000.