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What do you think of Google's face recognition app? Has Google gone too far?

A recent CNN report by Mark Milian states:
"Google is working on a mobile application that would allow users to snap pictures of people's faces in order to access their personal information, a director for the project said this week.

In order to be identified by the software, people would have to check a box agreeing to give Google permission to access their pictures and profile information, said Hartmut Neven, the Google engineering director for image-recognition development.

Google's Profiles product includes a user's name, phone number and e-mail address. Google has not said what personal data might be displayed once a person is identified by its facial-recognition system."

Has Google crossed a line here?

  • Apr 2 2011: I've found google ads both helpful and intrusive. I have a similar reaction to this facial recognition technology. But the crucial point here is the "checkbox". Google cannot mess with your privacy without your consent. Sure there are more practical concerns, like the thousands of words in the privacy statement that you will have to read through and understand. However, I see no wrong in this technology.

    There's always the argument that if the world were such that you couldn't hide anything from it, there would be less to hide.
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      Apr 2 2011: I agree with your last statement!
    • Apr 3 2011: Hi Sadish, I hear you. I think we all know privacy rules are repeatedly broken, however, so even though you have no concerns for yourself, would you be concerned about things like identity theft for other members of your family? Or even "bad" people targeting children in your family?
  • Apr 5 2011: I don't think Google crossed the line because people have to give consent before Google application will recognize them.

    However, I can see that in the near future companies will start producing lots of applications that will allow the user to scan peoples faces. After a scan the application will extract all data from the Internet about the person. Each of us has lots of data (whether we realize it or not) e.g. Linked In profiles, Facebook pages, blogs, Flicker pictures, resumes, web sites etc posted on the Internet. The application will be able return all person's data, possibly including address and phone.

    This can become a serious privacy issue.
    • Apr 5 2011: Hi Zdenek, you bring up a good point. In this scenario, I can understand allowing access to Linkedin, as this is designed for a professional environment. However, should they automatically have access to personal pages such as Facebook, your familiy holiday pictures, and so on? I have an issue with this. But I am afraid that you may be right. They could also use it when children apply to college. There is a very Borg-like feel to it for me (Star Trek reference) .. creepy. Thanks for your input.
  • Apr 2 2011: Thank you all for the comments. Thus far, the consensus is that they have overstepped the bounds into privacy intrusion. How does one deal with this? Do we simply resign ourselves to the fact that they can do whatever they wish with personal information? Or is it that once the information is posted online, that in itself automatically relinquishes any right to privacy? Should governments be doing more to legislate and protect personal information online? What about our children's information on Facebook and similar sites?
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    Apr 2 2011: I first thought this might be a misunderstood April 1st joke, but it appears I'm wrong.

    This is definitely taking things too far, it's the ultimate stalker tool. I doubt anyone wants strangers to take pictures of say, your wife and kids and find out where you are living...
  • Apr 2 2011: I guess it depends. If the info doled out can be regulated by the individual, like on facebook, it might be ok. Mostly I think it is a bad idea though. Being able to find someones address or phone number(possibly) by taking a picture of him/her without permission crosses the creepy line. If you are close enough to take a picture, then you can just ask.
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    Apr 2 2011: There are some boundaries that just don't need to be crossed. Face recognition can so easily be used in the wrong ways. Talk about totally screwing with peoples privacy.
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    Apr 2 2011: As a student of computer science, I have to say it's gone too far. I think this kind of idea is more of showing their technical ability than improving people's lives. I cannot see any advantages for the society out of this idea. Instead, I can only see the disadvantages it will bring about
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    Apr 2 2011: i think it's so crazy.I doubt whether it can protect personal privacy, as it relates to business problems are not only hit the bottom range of ethical
  • Apr 2 2011: My own opinion is that Google crossed the line some time ago, when I see ads based on my email content cropping up alongside my email. This latest development is way over the line. Despite their assurances, their security systems seems to be a weak facade.