Texas sues Google for surreptitiously collecting users’ biometric data in photos, voice recordings


Texas has filed a lawsuit against Google claiming the tech behemoth took users’ biometric data without permission.

The complaint alleges Google collected identifiers such as voiceprints and records of face geometry through products and services like Google Photos, Google Assistant, and Nest Hub Max without users being aware of it upfront.

“Google’s indiscriminate collection of the personal information of Texans, including very sensitive information like biometric identifiers, will not be tolerated,” state Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “I will continue to fight Big Tech to ensure the privacy and security of all Texans.”

The suit faults a feature in Google Photos, in particular, that includes “face-grouping” in a cloud-based app and creates a template based on facial geometry.

“When a grandson drives to Midland to visit his grandmother on Easter and sends a series of photos taken on his Android phone to the family thread, those photos are sent to Google Photos by default, where Google captures grandma’s face geometry,” the lawsuit said.

The suit argues Google is using Texans to fine-tune its facial recognition software without users realizing it, allowing the company to advance its market dominance. It makes similar complaints about the Nest line and voice recognition.

Google spokesman José Castañeda told USA Today that Google plans to set the record straight in court, noting the recognition technology is optional and users can turn off the Google Photos grouping function at any time.

“AG Paxton is once again mischaracterizing our products in another breathless lawsuit,” he said.


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