The Google Glass team updated its Google Plus status with an announcement that, for now, facial recognition apps will not be allowed of the company's wearable tech. This is certainly good news for privacy advocates who have already grown weary over the thought that wearers could possibly take anyone's picture with just a blink of an eye.
"We've been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass," the team states. "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,' Google adds.
The Glass policies now state that app developers can'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."
App developers are also prevented from turning off the little light above the eye (AKA the display) when the camera is in use. Thus, it must remain active or become active when taking a picture and stay active during a video recording so that non-Glass wearers are more aware that the specs are in use.
"We take security very seriously: we can suspend your application without notice if it appears to have a security or stability issue that could affect Google or its users," the company states.
Google's Glass update in regards to facial recognition arrives after Congress submitted a number of questions to Larry Page over privacy concerns related to Glass and its embedded camera. One of those focused on facial recognition which could possibly unveil personal information about anyone the Glass user is viewing. Would a user be able to request such information? Can a non-user or human subject opt out of this collection of personal data?
"As members of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American," the letter states. "Because Google Glass has not yet been released and we are uncertain of Google's plans to incorporate privacy protections into the device, there are still a number of unanswered questions that we share."
For now, it seems that Google has addressed that concern.