Google nixes facial recognition in Glass for now

The company declares it won't approve facial recognition in software for its high-tech specs "at this time" -- saying strong privacy protections will need to be in place first.

Sarah Tew/CNET

In a move that might make some privacy advocates breathe a sigh of relief, Google said late Friday that it won't be approving facial recognition capabilities in software meant for its high-tech Glass specs.

"As Google has said for several years, we won't add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place," the company said in a post to the Google+ page for Project Glass. "With that in mind, we won't be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time."

As Google Glass has inched its way closer to becoming a real-world consumer product, the headline-grabbing wearable computing device has captured the imagination of the technorati; sparked the curiosity of the general public; inspired apps from Facebook , The New York Times , and others ; brought out the barbs of comedy writers ; and raised the eyebrows of the privacy-minded .

Earlier this month, several members of Congress sent a letter to Google to ask about privacy concerns related to Glass, including how the company will prevent Glass from unintentionally collecting data without user consent.

Here's this evening's post from Google in its entirety:

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.

 

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