Texas filed a lawsuit against Google Thursday, accusing the internet giant of collecting the biometric data of millions of people without their informed consent, a lawsuit deemed “baseless” by the California group.
According to Ken Paxton, Republican state attorney, Google has collected millions of biometric fingerprints, such as the texture of the voice or the geometric structure of the face, thanks to archiving and photo-editing services or voice-activated devices, in particular.
It is a “new unfounded lawsuit”, reacted José Castañeda, a Google spokesman contacted by AFP.
“Google Photos helps you organize your photos by grouping similar faces, so you can easily find old photos of different people,” she explained. “You can easily opt out if you wish, and we don’t use photos or videos in Google Photos for ad targeting.”
The same principles apply to other services such as voice assistant Google Assistant and Nest series smart speakers, which can recognize users’ voices, he added.
The complaint accuses Google of using this information for commercial purposes, in particular to improve its artificial intelligence technologies, which need a lot of data to work well.
“Every time Google’s algorithms process photos and videos to detect certain faces and objects (…), Google’s artificial intelligence becomes better, more informed, more efficient and more dominant,” the lawyers explain in the document.
“Across the state, Texans have become unwilling cash cows, exploited by Google for its profits,” they say.
Known for his stances against tech groups, the very conservative Ken Paxton launched similar lawsuits against Meta (Facebook, Instagram) last February.
US states and consumer groups have multiplied complaints against major data privacy platforms in recent years, the country has no federal law on the matter.
In February, Meta agreed to pay $90 million to settle a lawsuit in California over tracking users even after they log out of the platform for advertising targeting purposes.
Facebook previously agreed in 2021 to pay $650 million to settle a privacy lawsuit between it and 1.6 million users in Illinois.