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Facial Recognition Dropped in Google Glass Due to Privacy
Facial Recognition Dropped in Google Glass Due to Privacy

By Jennifer LeClaire
June 3, 2013 10:48AM

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Congress members asked several privacy questions: "When using Google Glass, is it true that this product would be able to use Facial Recognition Technology to unveil personal information about whomever and even some inanimate objects that the user is viewing? Would a user be able to request such information? Can a non-user or human subject opt out of this collection of personal data?"
 



After receiving a letter from Congress asking a myriad of questions about privacy issues related to Google Glass, the technology giant is putting the kibosh on one of the wearable hardware's features. Google is not incorporating facial recognition into Glass.

"We've been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass," the company said on a Google+ post on the Project Glass page. "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."

Mixed Opinions on the Nixing

Google positioned the decision as a response to consumer concerns, but it may have been the letter from eight members of the House Privacy Caucus to Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page in May that ultimately drove the decision to hold off on facial recognition in Glass.

The Congress members asked eight questions in their letter. One of them was: "When using Google Glass, is it true that this product would be able to use Facial Recognition Technology to unveil personal information about whomever and even some inanimate objects that the user is viewing? Would a user be able to request such information? Can a non-user or human subject opt out of this collection of personal data? If so, how? If not, why not?"

Congress has not responded yet, but commenters on the Google post announcing the delay on facial recognition are offering mixed reactions. Max Kit said, "Can we please get opt-in facial recognition. I would be 100% fine with people recognizing me. Why would it be a bad thing for people on the street to know my name is Max?"

But Ozi Yesufu posted, "How about you just don't add it at all. Google Glass is the end of privacy." And Eddie Daniels took the middle ground, writing, "I think it is smart to roll it out slowly to ease the concerns of the uncertain or uninformed. It stops misinformation from getting out of control and ruining the chance for the technology to grow and improve."

Google Glass Bar Fight?

Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, said he, too, has privacy concerns. He told us at some point in the not-likely-too-distant future, someone could come into a party wearing Glass and refuse to remove them when asked. Then, Kay continued, another guest with a few drinks in him would take exception to the privacy intrusion and smash his fist into the Glass, break the hardware and damage the wearer's face.

"I would not advise Google or its supporters to press forward with trying to make these things acceptable in polite society. If they persist anyway, they can expect a wave of hostility the likes of which they have perhaps only begun to imagine," Kay said. "The type of programmers who founded Google are not known for their social sensitivity. I would like them to 'get it' before someone from a more primitive age expresses himself with his knuckles."
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

A_User:

Posted: 2013-06-18 @ 9:50am PT
the problem is not facial recognition itself. the problem is Google's access to the product of facial recognition. I recognize my friend Joe, and so should *my* glasses to allow *me* to react to the recognition, e.g. remind me that I have a file for him. *my* glasses should not share this information with Google, because it is none of Google's business where I am or who I meet.

jwalters:

Posted: 2013-06-16 @ 5:24pm PT
In response to the article Facial Recognition Dropped in Google Glass due to privacy, by Jennifer Le Claire,June 3, 2013
It is a good idea not to offer the option of facial recognition with the Google Glasses. Why add to the issues this country already has with privacy invasion.
We deserve the right to our privacy and the information we do not wish to share with strangers. It should not even be a consideration whether or not Google glass offers facial recognition.

jwalters:

Posted: 2013-06-10 @ 8:53pm PT
In response to the article Facial Recognition Dropped in Google Glass due to privacy, by Jennifer Le Claire,June 3, 2013
It is a good idea not to offer the option of facial recognition with the Google Glasses. Why add to the issues this country already has with privacy invasion.
We deserve the right to our privacy and the information we do not wish to share with strangers. It should not even be a consideration whether or not Google glass offers facial recognition.

JoshL:

Posted: 2013-06-03 @ 11:48am PT
Roger Kay: Let's outlaw google glass because someone might get punched in the face... Brilliant logic

geoffa:

Posted: 2013-06-03 @ 11:42am PT
What is Roger Kay's solution for cameras of any sort? Haven't photographers been punched in the face for taking photos without the subjects consent? Maybe we should make all cameras illegal....



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