Texas has filed a lawsuit against Google for non-consensual data collection.

The search engine giant is accused of violating state consumer-protection law.

Attorney general for the state Ken Paxton sued the firm on Thursday, October 20.

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Google has called the lawsuit “breathless” and says it will defend itself.

The lawsuit comes after Google allegedly obtained Texans’ biometric data on face and voice features without seeking their explicit consent.

Texas claimed the Mountain View firm’s data-collection strategies could be traced back to 2015 and has impacted millions of residents in the state.

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

“I will continue to fight Big Tech to ensure the privacy and security of all Texans.”

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Google spokesman Jose Castaneda stated Mr. Paxton “is once again mischaracterizing our products in another breathless lawsuit. 

He argues that Google Photos helps users manage their photos through an easy-to-disable feature and that the same is true for its other services.

Castaneda added: “We will set the record straight in court.”

The complaint follows a similar one lodged by Texas against Facebook parent Meta in February.

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Meta, which stopped using face recognition technology last year, denied the accusations.

Texas said in the most recent lawsuit that the tech firm used features in Google Photos and Google Assistant, as well as its Nest smart-home products or illegal data collection.

Mr. Paxton says Google leveraged the data for commercial purposes such as boosting artificial intelligence algorithms and selling users cloud storage.

The Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act, passed in Texas in 2009, made the gathering and sharing of biometric information in the state unlawful without informed consent.

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The state said: “Google has now spent years unlawfully capturing the faces and voices of both non-consenting users and non-users throughout Texas.

“It includes our children and grandparents, who simply have no idea that their biometric information is being mined for profit by a global corporation.”

Google earlier agreed to pay $100 million in fines to settle an Illinois class-action suit alleging the firm’s face-grouping tool violated Illinois privacy laws.

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In addition, Texas is spearheading a group of states suing the firm for purported anticompetitive conduct in online advertising marketplaces.

The company has refuted the assertions, calling some of them misleading.

Last month, a federal judge denied the majority of its motion to dismiss the litigation.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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