Google won’t allow face recognition on Glass yet.

On Friday 31st May Google released a statement on their project Glass G+ channel.

Glass and Facial Recognition

When we started the Explorer Program nearly a year ago our goal was simple: we wanted to make people active participants in shaping the future of this technology ahead of a broader consumer launch.  We’ve been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass. 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.

We’ve learned a lot from you in just a few weeks and we’ll continue to learn more as we update the software and evolve our policies in the weeks and months ahead.

The new developers policy now includes the following new restrictions:

  1. Don’t use the camera or microphone to cross-reference 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.
  2. Don’t disable or turn off the display when using the camera. The display must become active when taking a picture and stay active during a video recording as part of your application.

We strongly welcome Google clarifying their stance. However we are not popping the champagne corks just yet. The phrase ‘at this time‘ is somewhat concerning since it indicates a likely intention to add the capability to identify people in the future. Further it is unclear what ‘strong privacy protections‘ might mean and in practice it will be difficult to stop side loaded apps.

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