Google cuts out Glass' facial recognition apps

Google cuts out Glass' facial recognition apps

Summary: As concerns mount over the privacy impact of Google's networked specs, the company has promised to prevent facial recognition Glassware until it has privacy protections in place.

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TOPICS: Google, Hardware
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Google announced late Friday that it would keep official facial recognition apps off Glass until it has some privacy protections in place.

"As Google has said for several years, we won't add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place," Google's Project Glass team announced via its Google+ account. "With that in mind, we won't be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time."

Google said as much to the New York Times in response to a letter recently addressed to the company's CEO Larry Page from eight members of Congress asking how it would avoid a repeat of its Street View Wi-Fi collection slip-up and not unintentionally collect data about people without their permission.

The letter, which Google has until 14 June to respond to, asked if Glass enables facial recognition and has the ability to cross-reference images with other sources, and if so, whether people not wearing Glass will have the ability to opt out of that collection.

Google has reflected its no facial recognition stance in the developer policy for developers of Glassware apps. It now reads: "Don't use the camera or microphone to crossreference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print. Applications that do this will not be approved at this time."

Another updated clause is meant to ensure the device indicates when the camera is activated and now states that Google will block apps that disable or turn off the display when the camera is in use.

The new policy could also be a response to a new Glass API by Lambda Labs that is designed for developers to build facial recognition apps for the hardware.

Topics: Google, Hardware

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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4 comments
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  • RIGHT, and that will stop...

    Sorry, but the cat is out of the bag.

    --> Google has allowed rooting the device.

    THUS anything Google recommends or says they might as well be peeing into the wind because people will root the device and do otherwise. At least Apple tries to control rooting of the device. No this device will remain a nerd device!
    serpentmage
    • And that's a bad thing how, exactly?

      If I buy a device, the last thing I want is some fruitcake company telling me what I am allowed to do with it. The ability to root the device is a really really good thing about Android devices. If you find freedom scary, go and live in China.

      Last time I owned an iPhone (and that will remain the last time, until Apple change their policy), they didn't allow GPS navigation apps. The hardware was capable, and TomTom, Garmin and the rest had written their apps, but Apple wouldn't allow it.

      So in short, if Glasses weren't rootable, I wouldn't buy them. I would probably never root them, unless I had a good reason to, but not having that ability would be an absolute show-stopper for me.
      MyLeftSock
  • Odd.

    I can understand not allowing face recognition based on public internet data, but surely it's ok to have your personal contacts indexed?
    Pachanga-4184c
  • why not

    facial recognition is out there anyway, could be a great security feature. If you're out in public you're under surveillance anyway. I see a future where all cops & TSA agents are wearing Glass w/ facial recognition. You meet someone and you know them but can't remember their name but Glass has already put the name up for you. You're at a party and want to talk to that interesting person over there, so Glass shows you their Google+ page that they have made public so you know what interest them
    danChester