Axios is reporting that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is leading an investigation into social media giant Facebook for possible breaches of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices — Consumer Protection Act (DTPA), with Paxton reportedly looking into whether the company illegally obtained biometric data from its users.
The DTPA aims to protect consumers in the state of Texas from false and misleading business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty.
Based on documents obtained by the Tech Transparency Project this past June, Facebook is accused of allegedly “improperly” collecting biometric data from users in the Texas case, though the exact nature of the data is not specified in the report.
This news comes after Facebook recently upped its settlement in a case brought against it for violations of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) — which requires express written consent from users to obtain and store their biometric data — to $650 million dollars, following U.S. District Court Judge James Donato rejecting a previous settlement offer of $550 million on the grounds that it was too low.
The BIPA violations involve Facebook using its algorithm to obtain users’ faceprints via the site’s ‘tagging’ feature when browsing through photos uploaded to the platform.
Based on that case and the way it has played out, Paxton launched his civil investigation to find out if the company’s actions are in violation of the DTPA, requesting documents relating to that lawsuit, and also to Facebook’s use of facial recognition software.
Despite the close ties Paxton’s investigation has with the BIPA case, he has stated that it is a “Texas-only inquiry and is separate from the other pending matter.”
July 30, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis