Google Says Planned Facial Recognition App Will Have Strong Privacy Policy

We’ve all heard of “Googling” someone’s name to find out more about them. But now the search giant is taking it a step forward, designing a mobile app that will allow users to simply take a picture of a subject to find personal information about them -- including things like your phone number, e-mail address and name.

Before worrying too much, there is some good news. Hartmut Neven, Google's engineering director for image-recognition development said that the technology would be opt-in, meaning that users would have to give the company permission to access the information through the app. If you don’t, the app wouldn’t work if someone took your picture.

Google is already more than capable with recognition technology, as apps like Google Goggles allows users to take pictures of things like artwork, books and landmarks to find out more information about the object.

Google officials said there is no timeline for the release of the app. Let’s hope when it is released, there is a more than acceptable privacy policy, something Google has had issues with.

The company recently settled with the Federal Trade Commission regarding possible privacy violations with the Google Buzz social network.

As part of the settlement, Google will design a comprehensive privacy program and submit to an outside, independent privacy audit bi-annually for the next 20 years.

And the company has had its fair share of issues with the Google Street View part of Google Maps. After agreeing to blur any identifiable faces and license plates captured by the Street View cameras, officials apologized after learning that equipment in the cars captured data -- including e-mail messages and passwords -- flowing across un-encrypted WiFi networks.

So would you ever allow Google to link your face with public information? Or are we creeping ever closer to a “Minority Report” future with no privacy?

Posted by Brent Dirks on Mar 31, 2011

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