InfoSecurity: Texas sues Google over alleged harvesting of consumers’ biometric details for profit

*The State of Texas, in the United States, in a lawsuit accuses the global technology giant of collecting ‘millions of biometric identifiers’ including voice and facial details from consumers, and profiting, in violation of a state law

*Google Spokesperson rejects allegation, says state is ‘mischaracterising’ company’s product

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

For purportedly harvesting ‘millions of biometric identifiers’ without consumers’ explicit consent, the State of Texas, in the United States (US) has filed a lawsuit against global technology giant Google.

ConsumerConnect learnt the regulators Thursday, October 29, 2022, accused the Internet giant of harvesting large amounts of biometric data from consumers without their clear consent.

However, California-based company Google rejected the claim of committing data insecurity.

The suit also accuses Google of collecting “millions of biometric identifiers,” such as voice and facial details, from users in Texas in violation of a state law, and profiting as a result, said Attorney-General Ken Paxton in a statement.

Paxton stated: “Google’s indiscriminate collection of the personal information of Texans, including very sensitive information like biometric identifiers, will not be tolerated.”

Nonetheless, Google has rejected the accusation, as the company promises to “set the record straight” in court, agency report said.

Google Spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in reply to an AFP inquiry, that “AG Paxton is, once again, mischaracterising our products in another breathless lawsuit.”

The Spokesperson also noted that Google Photos uses technology that groups similar faces to make it easier to find old pictures, but they are only visible to users and the feature is easily turned.

Castaneda stated: “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 recognise their voice or face to show their information.”

Conservative Republican Paxton has taken aim at tech firms in a slew of lawsuits, including a similar complaint against Facebook-parent Meta in February, according to report.

Meanwhile, in the absence of clear-cut federal guidelines addressing how user data can be collected and used, several US states have passed their own rules, while states and consumer groups have filed multiple lawsuits on the matter.

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