Attorney General Ken Paxton announced today the launch of a new major initiative to protect citizens’ sensitive data from unauthorized exploitation by tech companies and artificial intelligence. 

The initiative was launched under the umbrella of the Attorney General Office Consumer Protection Division and established a team for “aggressive enforcement” of state privacy laws. It will also “ensure companies respect Texans’ privacy rights and safeguard their personal data.

According to a press release from Paxton’s office, the data protection team is set to be one of the largest privacy law enforcement teams in the entire United States. 

Any entity abusing or exploiting Texans’ sensitive data will be met with the full force of the law,” said Paxton. “Companies that collect and sell data in an unauthorized manner, harm consumers financially, or use artificial intelligence irresponsibly present risks to our citizens that we take very seriously.

“As many companies seek more and more ways to exploit data they collect about consumers, I am doubling down to protect privacy rights,” he continued. “With companies able to collect, aggregate, and use sensitive data on an unprecedented scale, we are strengthening our enforcement of privacy laws to protect our citizens.”

Specifically, the new team will focus on enforcing the Data Privacy and Security Act, the Identify Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, the Data Broker Law, the Biometric Identifier Act, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and federal laws such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

“Texas has been a national leader in advancing conservative technology policy, and this initiative is the perfect complement to legislative wins in recent sessions as it will ensure Texas has the expertise and firepower to enforce laws that protect consumers and hold Big Tech accountable,” said David Dunmoyer—the Texas Public Policy Foundation Better Tech for Tomorrow campaign director. 

“Big Tech companies have gleefully flouted laws like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act for years, and in the absence of meaningful federal action, this initiative demonstrates Texas’ willingness to once again step into the breach and fight on behalf of Texans,” he continued. “This initiative will only further cement Texas’ national leadership in this space.”

This is the latest development in Texas’ efforts to crack down on data privacy infringement. In mid-summer of last year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Data Privacy & Security Act into law. 

The law applies to primarily businesses and entities who conduct business in the state of Texas or produce a product consumed by Texans, process or engage with the sale of personal data, and who are not considered “small businesses” unless the business has its hand in transactions of personal data. 

The law puts strict regulations on how businesses collect, manage, and process personal data of Texas consumers. In addition to this, according to the Texas State Securities Board, cyberattacks are on the rise in the state—further threatening data privacy. Reportedly, financial firms and institutions are major targets.

Will Biagini

Will was born in Louisiana and raised in a military family. He currently serves as a journalist with Texas Scorecard. Previously, he was a senior correspondent for Campus Reform.