After filing a lawsuit against Meta, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now after Google. The AG has sued Google over the alleged unlawful use of biometric data scraped from photos and voice recordings. He claims that it’s hit millions of Texans, yet that Google failed to obtain their informed consent to collect their data.
Paxton claims in his lawsuit that Google has collected millions of biometric identifiers from Texans. These include voiceprints and records of face geometry, obtained from Google Photos, Google Assistant, and Nest Hub Max. According to the lawsuit, Google’s use of this personal information for its own commercial interests violates the state’s Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act.
“Google’s indiscriminate collection of the personal information of Texans, including very sensitive information like biometric identifiers, will not be tolerated,” the AG said. “I will continue to fight Big Tech to ensure the privacy and security of all Texans.”
“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 lawsuit reads.
“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. Indeed, all across the state, everyday Texans have become unwitting cash cows being milked by Google for profits.”
Of course, Google doesn’t agree with Paxton’s allegations. Speaking with Engadget, Google spokesperson José Castañeda said:
“AG Paxton is 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 and you can easily turn off this feature if you choose and we do not use photos or videos in Google Photos for advertising purposes. 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.”