Meta has temporarily deactivated some filters for Instagram users in Illinois and Texas. The company made the move in an effort to head off potential privacy lawsuits in the two states, though it stressed that the decision was strictly a cautionary measure and that it is planning to restore the filter features in the not-too-distant future.
Both Texas and Illinois have laws that prevent the collection of biometric data without consent. The two laws have also created a major legal headache for Meta, which has faced multiple lawsuits stemming from its use of facial recognition technology in Facebook’s automated tagging feature. Meta reached a $650 million settlement with Facebook users in Illinois in a class action lawsuit associated with the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, and is now dealing with a separate class action lawsuit from non-Facebook users whose images ended up on the platform. At the same time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has brought a suit that accuses the company of violating that state’s Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act.
For its part, Meta insisted that the Instagram filters do not use any facial recognition technology when they add digital effects like sunglasses and makeup to an image. However, the company noted that the augmented reality tech has been mischaracterized in the past, and that it is therefore suspending the features to head off any possibility of further legal action. Meta is currently working on an opt-in system for Texas and Illinois residents, and will reintroduce the missing AR filters once that form is complete.
According to Meta, the consent form should be ready for its debut in a matter of weeks. Until then, Texas and Illinois residents will have access to Instagram’s full suite of filters whenever they cross the border into another state. Meta announced that it would be discontinuing its use of facial recognition in late 2021.
Source: Austin American-Statesman