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Google won't approve facial recognition in Glassware until privacy protection is in place

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Google won't approve facial recognition in Glassware until privacy protection is in place
We all know that facial recognition software exists. We see it any time we post a picture to Facebook or Google+, we see it with the eye tracking functionality in the Galaxy S smartphones, and we see it in any number of facial morphing photo apps. But, despite the fact that the technology is here and it's ready, Google has said it will not allow facial recognition in Glassware until there are "strong privacy protections in place".

This isn't really a new policy, but because facial recognition is such a hot button issue, and Google Glass is a lightning rod for privacy concerns, Google wants to constantly reassure people that it has no plans to allow the technology just yet. In a Google+ post, the company said:
We've been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass. As Google has said for several years, we won’t add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place. With that in mind, we won’t be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time.
While Google has said it will not use facial recognition without proper privacy protection, this is the first time the company has specifically said it would not approve Glass apps that use the technology. Also, according to AllThingsD, Google will not allow the Glass screen to be turned off while taking a picture, so it is more apparent to others that a photo is being taken.

And, this news comes at a pretty good time, because we're having a discussion at PA about Google and privacy. We understand that the data collection Google does unnerves some people, so we're asking people to weigh in on exactly why they have trouble trusting Google. If you have an opinion, just head over to the topic article and comment!

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posted on 01 Jun 2013, 13:31 2

1. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)

Do you still believe this isn't a violation of privacy Michael? I honestly am very concerned when it comes to this feature.

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 13:35 2

3. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)

Politicians would LOVE it. Imagine going down a rope line at a political event with GG and facial recognition software identifying your important donors with info about their wife, kids, grandkids, issues that are important to the donor, and, and, and. I am actually surprised that some politician hasn't introduced legislation compelling Google to release this function for all politicians.

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 13:43 4

4. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2720; Member since: 26 May 2011)

I think that there are a lot more ways this could go wrong, but I also think that there's a lot of value to be had from the feature. I like that Google is being overly cautious in bringing it out.

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 15:53

7. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)

What kind of value could this really add? Google says they're being overly cautious but wouldn't any company be saying that once they're called out on something they've done or was accused of doing? Who's to say this isn't all just for a better public relations image for Google Glasses?

You as a journalist and writer should already be aware of this Michael.

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 19:50 2

11. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2720; Member since: 26 May 2011)

The value is simple, you see someone one the street, facial recognition automatically pulls up their social networks, bio, and contact info. The privacy part will obviously start with the fact that it has to be someone that you are mutually connected with on say Google+. It would be huge for conferences and events, especially if you are someone who is terrible with names.

If the facial recognition spots someone on the police wanted list, it could automatically send a message to the cops, or at least automatically dial 911 for you.

If you're watching TV, it could use facial recognition to pull up an actor's bio, same if you're watching sports.

Of course it's better PR for Google Glass, but that doesn't negate the fact that there are quality benefits to the technology.

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 13:32 1

2. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5993; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)

Maybe I am missing something. But if you are looking at someone while wearing GG, and facial recognition software matches the image of the person with the contact information for that person, how is that scenario bad for GG, but good for the contact information to be stored in Google's Cloud?

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 15:10 3

6. quakan (Posts: 1398; Member since: 02 Mar 2011)

If the police were to get ahold of GG w/ facial recognition, they would never miss another suspect again, amber alerts would be solved quickly, they would quickly know who they're dealing with during a simple pull over (the person's name, background, and/or warrants could just scroll across the screen in a blink of an eye), etc.

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 16:49 4

8. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

that's actually a crazy good idea... never thought about that use

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 17:08 2

9. WHoyton1 (Posts: 1635; Member since: 21 Feb 2013)

So not only are Google innovators there also crime fighters...where do their talents end!

posted on 01 Jun 2013, 17:54 1

10. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

Nice job Google. Nothing wrong with listening to the criticisms and understanding the concerns many have.

For something that might be a niche product....there sure is alot of attention being paid to Google Glass.....

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