Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing Google, saying the tech giant is in violation of a state law by compiling facial and voice recognition information from users without their knowledge, The Texas Tribune has reported.
In the lawsuit, filed Thursday, Paxton claims apps and devices store data on voiceprints and facial geometry from anyone they capture. The suit also claims the company is in violation of the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Information Act by not informing people or getting their consent.
Paxton's lawsuit looks to end those practices and seeks a penalty of $25,000 for each violation. According to the Tribune, the amount could be enormous in a state as big as Texas.
The lawsuit claims Google identifies and collects the facial geometry of those whose face appears in a photo uploaded to Google Photos. That action also includes people who might just be in the background, the Tribune noted.
This facial information is used to sort out photos based on who appears in them. The suit maintains the same holds true for those who use the smart home device Google Nest Hub Max. That device uses facial recognition to recommend features based on who is using it.
This would include "Texan children, who may be drawn by curiosity to stand in front of the Nest Hub Max as the camera watches and analyzes them," the lawsuit said.
José Castañeda, a spokesperson for Google, said Paxton's claims misrepresent what the company's products actually do.
"AG Paxton is once again mischaracterizing our products in another breathless lawsuit," Castañeda said in a statement. "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, 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."
But Paxton, in a statement said: "Google's indiscriminate collection of the personal information of Texans, including very sensitive information like biometric identifiers, will not be tolerated.
"I will continue to fight Big Tech to ensure the privacy and security of all Texans."
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