Texas Sues Facebook Over Facial Recognition System Long Targeted by EPIC
February 15, 2022
The Attorney General of Texas has filed suit against Facebook over the social networking company’s use of facial recognition—a practice EPIC has targeted in complaints to the Federal Trade Commission for more than a decade.
Starting in 2010, Facebook used facial recognition to identify people who appear in users’ photos and to suggest that other users “tag” them. But as EPIC explained in a 2011 FTC complaint (and again in 2018), this system was deployed “without the knowledge or consent of Facebook users and without adequate consideration of the risks to Facebook users.”
Texas alleges that Facebook and Instagram’s use of facial recognition violated the state’s biometric privacy law and unlawfully deceived consumers. “Facebook has, for over a decade, built an Artificial Intelligence empire on the backs of Texans by deceiving them while capturing their most intimate data, thereby putting their well-being, safety, and security at risk,” the complaint reads. The suit calls for damages of up to $25,000 per injured Texan.
Facebook was previously forced to pay $5 billion and submit to an FTC consent order in 2019 due in part to its deceptive facial recognition system. Facebook announced in November that it would drop facial recognition from its core platform over “growing societal concerns,” but questions remain about whether and how the company will use facial recognition in other contexts.
EPIC has long fought to protect the privacy of social media users, for a ban on face surveillance, and for the enactment of comprehensive federal privacy legislation that includes a data protection agency.