A lawsuit was filed on Tuesday against Google by the Texas Attorney General, alleging that Google violated the state’s biometric privacy law because they collected voiceprints and facial recognition data from users and non-users of their products without consent.
Google has been sued by a civil rights organization in Texas. The lawsuit claims that Google Photos, as well as its products that use facial recognition and voice recognition technology, violate the state’s Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act. In a statement, Goog
“Google Photos helps you organise pictures of people, by grouping similar faces, so you can easily find old photos. Of course, this only shows up on your device and you can also turn it off if you choose not to use these features,” said Google spokesperson José Castañeda. “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. These features are off-by-default and give users the option to let Google Assistant recognise their voice or face to show their information.”
What happens when someone uploads an image to Google Photos? Google scans the uploaded images to identify and categorise pictured subjects. What’s more, it’s also allegedly listening to Texans without their consent, especially during a specific time of day known as “the watchlist.” Unfortunately for these Texans, the camera-equipped Nest Hub Max seems hardly innocent. It has allegedly been used like “a modern Eye of Sauron — continuously filming and waiting to identify a face it knows.”
Texas is one of just a few states with a law governing the use of biometric data. In May, the state filed a lawsuit against Facebook for violating this law by running a photo-tagging tool that also violated Illinois’s $650 million biometric privacy settlement. The company claims it did not have any knowledge of the violation, and settled in February. Texas has multiple lawsuits ongoing against Google, including two other consumer protection cases and an antitrust case targeting Google’s dominance in the digital advertising market.