Google sued by Texas over Biometric Data Collection

Image by Markus Winkler from Pixabay

Texas has filed suit against Google Inc. 100,83 -0,45 -0,44% for alleged user privacy violations. There have been a handful of states which are suing or have already settled with Google. This is case is slightly different then the one Google recently settle in Arizona for illegal Android tracking. Texas is claiming Google has been collecting and using biometric data belonging to millions of Texans without their permission.

The Texas AG says that Google allegedly used products and services like Google Photos, Google Assistant, and Nest Hub Max to collect a vast array of biometric identifiers, including voiceprints and records of face geometry since 2015.

This would be a violation of the state’s biometric privacy act (aka the Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act) which requires companies to get request the users’ consent when collecting their biometric identifiers (i.e., “a retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or record of hand or face geometry”).

No word yet how much The State of Texas is seeking in financial damages against Google or if like Arizona (again that was for Android tracking not biometric data collection) Texas and Google will reach a settlement. Whatever the amount may be, it is likely a sliver of the $258 Billion in revenue Google makes annually and far less than the Android division has been fined for being anti-competitive. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, these special interest groups and government agencies seem to send the message: being anti-completive is a far worse crime than violating users’ privacy.

It is important to understand based on this suit that Texas does not have a problem with the practices of Google using these products “to collect a vast array of biometric identifiers, including voiceprints and records of face geometry since 2015”. Rather that Google is doing so without Texans’ permission. As for a settlement, all Google needs to do is pay fine and then burry a clause somewhere deep in there Privacy Policy/Terms of Use (which 99.9% of users will never read and just check the boxes they agree) for the above said products disclosing their voiceprints and face geometry may be collected and used for advertisement purposes. They will also need to disclose a method which users may opted out (other than choosing not the use the above products).

via BleepingComputer