Texas Investigating Facebook For Improperly Collecting Biometric Data

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Texas is investigating Facebook over allegations that the social media giant may have illegally harvested biometric data from its users. Attorney General Ken Paxton is at the forefront of this investigation, Axios reports.

According to documents uncovered by the Tech Transparency Project in June, Facebook could be "improperly" collecting users' biometric data. It's unclear what kind of biometric data the company may have collected improperly, though.

Paxton suspects the Menlo Park, California-based tech biggie may have violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices — Consumer Protection Act (DTPA). The law protects consumers from false and misleading business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty.

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Texas AG is investigating Facebook over alleged violation of state laws

Facebook users in Illinois recently secured a settlement over an issue of biometric data collection. The class-action lawsuit centered on the company's use of facial recognition tech to identify people in photos uploaded to its social media platform. The practice violated Illinois law on biometric privacy. The law requires companies to get written consent before collecting biometric data.

The company reached a settlement in February and agreed to pay $550 million in compensation, later increased to $650 million. It will also have to obtain full consent from Illinois consumers before collecting any biometric information from them.

While the settlement still has to obtain approval from the US District Court in the Northern District of California, Facebook is facing yet another similar probe. The Texas AG has reportedly issued a civil investigative demand to the company asking for information to determine whether it has violated the DTPA.

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Paxton has requested documents related to the company's use of facial recognition software. Additionally, he has also requested documents related to the Illinois lawsuit, although he says it is a "Texas-only inquiry and is separate from the other pending matter."

The "pending matter" may be a reference to the New York-led multistate antitrust investigation into Facebook. The probe includes Texas as well. Texas is also investigating Apple for potentially deceiving consumers.

Among the documents Paxton is seeking from Facebook include "discovery materials, responses to requests for interrogatories, the identity of experts retained by Facebook in the matter, unredacted transcripts of depositions, and a copy of all motions and pleadings."

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Facebook, meanwhile, appears to be reluctant to share the information. A June 25 email from Paxton's office asks the company to schedule a video conference to discuss its unwillingness to produce the requested documents. Facebook has declined to a request to comment from Axios.