Google Looking at Facial Recognition
Just what Google needs right now: a way to look even more invasive. Privacy concerns for the Internet and Google in particular have skyrocketed this year, as Buzz has prompted privacy concerns since the day it rolled out. But the trend goes further back with Google Street View.
Although that service blurs the images of passersby and license plates (and will remove images on request), Google is thinking about going to the opposite extreme soon: facial recognition technology, the Financial Times reports.
FT points out that Google already uses the technology in Picasa, so it certainly has the capacity to expand the service. (They chose not to include it in Google Goggles, though.) CEO Eric Schmidt said:
“Facial recognition is a good example . . . anything we did in that area would be highly, highly planned, discussed and reviewed. When you go through these things, you review your management procedures.”
However, he would not rule out any eventual roll-out, saying: “It is important that we continue to innovate.”
Highly planned, discussed and reviewed—like the company’s recent gaffe when it realized it had inadvertently collected payload data for public wireless networks as it logged SSIDs and MAC addresses? (To Google’s credit, they deleted the data, stopped all collection and came clean when they discovered their error.) Or would that be highly planned, discussed and reviewed like Buzz was(n’t)?
With the government already breathing down the neck of the search giant, now might not be a good time to contemplate something that invasive. On the other hand, of course, perhaps facial recognition technology would be just the thing to broker a deal between Google and the feds, and together they could track us everywhere we go. (Note to the paranoid: this is highly unlikely—the government already has facial recognition technology.)
What do you think? Is this something Google should just stay away from?