Google Glass presents a lot of exciting possibilities, but a fairly equal amount of concerns, one in particular being facial recognition and potential privacy issues that could result. On May 17, Congress sent a formal letter to Google addressing several privacy concerns, one of which was facial recognition. It has been a couple weeks, and now Google has stated it won’t approve facial recognition apps until privacy issues have been addressed.
In the Congressional letter, which was delivered to Google CEO Larry Page, one question was specifically posed concerning facial recognition: “Is it true that [Glass] 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 now, why not?”
Google has not yet responded to the letter, and has a day over two weeks yet to do so. It has, however, made a public statement on its Google+ regarding Glass, facial recognition, and privacy, saying that no Glassware with such a feature is going to be approved any time soon. It doesn’t say when such apps will be available, with the issue being dependent on many factors related to privacy.
Google goes on to say that it has had a stance for “several years” that it will not implement any sort of facial recognition technology into any of its products until “strong privacy protections” are established. Such a process will take time, and is multi-faceted. We may get a look into where Google is at now in the process next month when it responds to the government’s privacy concerns, but for now Google simply assures worried voices that the feature won’t be hitting the average consumer any time soon.
Facial recognition isn’t the only area where privacy concerns lie, however. Many cite the camera on Glass as a point of concern, which wearers being able to take images wherever they’d like with a simple wink. Many places have already banned the devices, including a bar in Seattle.