Google cuts out Glass' facial recognition apps

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.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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.

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