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Google confirms it collected facial data in exchange of $5.
It says that the practice was a “field research” aimed at improving face unlock feature.
Last week, a report claimed that Google was paying $5 (approx Rs 350) to passers-by in the US in return for a facial scan. From that development, it was derived that the company was doing this to train it’s face unlock system which was only rumoured at that time. Google has now confirmed both these developments, that is, it is incorporating face unlock feature in the Pixel 4 devices and it collected people’s photos to train its algorithms.
Google told The Verge that collecting face-scanning data was a “field research” and it was conducted to improve its algorithms, hence, improve the Pixel 4’s face unlock feature’s accuracy. “Our goal is to build the feature with robust security and performance. We’re also building it with inclusiveness in mind, so as many people as possible can benefit,” a Google spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Google is reportedly collecting infrared, colour, and depth data from each face along with time, ambient light level, among other things. “Although face samples inherently can’t be anonymous, each participant is assigned an abstract identity number. We separately keep each participant’s email address, in order to remove data upon request,” the company told the publication. The face data will be kept for 18 months and the samples are “encrypted and access restricted.”
This has also been cleared by Google in a blog post where it said, “Security and privacy are core principles for Pixel. Face unlock uses facial recognition technology that is processed on your device, so that image data never leaves your phone. The images used for face unlock are never saved or shared with other Google services. To protect your privacy and security, your face data is securely stored in Pixel's Titan M security chip. Similarly, Soli sensor data is also processed on your phone, and it’s never saved or shared with other Google services.”
Google Pixel 4 will also come with Soli, a motion-sensing radar that will sense small motions around the phone. By combining software algorithms with the hardware sensor, users can skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls, just by waving their hand(s).
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