Google is buying faces of passers-by for Rs 345: Report

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on 24 Jul 2019
Google is buying faces of passers-by for Rs 345: Report

Google is reportedly collecting facial data of passers-by in the US.

It's expected to use it in the development of its new Face ID-like technology.


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The news that Google is quietly developing its own Apple Face ID-like technology for its Pixel line-up of smartphones has been making the rounds on the internet for quite some time now. But Google appears to be more serious about it than we anticipated. We say this because, according to a recent report by ZDNet, Google is buying facial data of passers-by in the US for $5, which translates to about Rs 350 in India. We imagine this data will help the Android-maker train its new face unlock system better.

In a recent ZDNet report, frequent contributor Chris Matyszczyk writes about his friend George, who was, on one sunny day, ambling through a park in New York only to be encountered by a Google representative for a quick survey. “I basically had to use selfie mode and move my face around to get different angles of my face,” Matyszczyk quotes his friend as saying. In return for his time, Google reportedly offered him a $5 gift card to either Amazon or Starbucks.

From the article, we gather that Google is currently collecting data “to improve the next generation of facial recognition phone unlocking”. Google is apparently conducting this sort of survey in multiple cities across the US. While we're not entirely sure for which device Google is honing its facial recognition tech, our guess is that it's for the upcoming Pixel model, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Google is most likely collecting the facial data of real people to train its neural network to read faces better in the upcoming Pixel devices.

It's hard to say whether Google's public collection of people's facial data in this manner is ethically right or wrong. “Google basically has my whole life on their servers already. And removing Google from my life just isn't going to happen from a practical point of view. I don't really care about data privacy because I think it's all an illusion anyway,” Matyszczyk quotes his friend as saying while discussing data privacy.

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