Google grabs facial-recognition 'ware firm

Presumably such kit no longer creeps Schmidt out


Google has bought a facial recognition company called pittpatt.

pittpatt

Pittpatt was spun off from the University of Carnegie Mellon in 2004 following 10 years of research by Dr Henry Schneiderman, now the company's president and CEO.

The company specialises in "reliable facial recognition software for images and video".

Given the outrage Facebook caused by switching on similar software without asking its users, Google would be wise to tread carefully.

Facebook's tech scanned photos as they were uploaded and suggested "Tags" – names of the people pictured.

By neglecting to allow people to opt in, Facebook allowed anyone to see pictures of you taken by others – even if you'd kept pictures private on your own profile.

Facebook later apologised for not being clearer.

Data protection regulator the ICO is investigating the implications of the changes.

ICO spokesman said: “We have spoken to Facebook about the privacy implications of their facial recognition technology. As with any new technology, we expect Facebook to be upfront about how people’s personal information is being used. The privacy issues that this software might raise are obvious and users should be given as much information as possible to give them the opportunity to make an informed choice about whether they wish to use it.”

If Google are looking to introduce a similar feature through their own social networking platform then the same privacy considerations would also apply."

We've asked Google for comment but haven't heard anything back yet. The acquisition looks a little curious in light of comments by Eric Schmidt at Google's 'Big Tent' privacy conference in May to the effect that facial recognition technology creeped him out, and in which the company co-founder seemed to state that Google would not make use of such technology. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Google has more reasons why it doesn't like antitrust law that affects Google
    It'll ruin Gmail, claims web ads giant

    Google has a fresh list of reasons why it opposes tech antitrust legislation making its way through Congress but, like others who've expressed discontent, the ad giant's complaints leave out mention of portions of the proposed law that address said gripes.

    The law bill in question is S.2992, the Senate version of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA), which is closer than ever to getting votes in the House and Senate, which could see it advanced to President Biden's desk.

    AICOA prohibits tech companies above a certain size from favoring their own products and services over their competitors. It applies to businesses considered "critical trading partners," meaning the company controls access to a platform through which business users reach their customers. Google, Apple, Amazon, and Meta in one way or another seemingly fall under the scope of this US legislation. 

    Continue reading
  • Makers of ad blockers and browser privacy extensions fear the end is near
    Overhaul of Chrome add-ons set for January, Google says it's for all our own good

    Special report Seven months from now, assuming all goes as planned, Google Chrome will drop support for its legacy extension platform, known as Manifest v2 (Mv2). This is significant if you use a browser extension to, for instance, filter out certain kinds of content and safeguard your privacy.

    Google's Chrome Web Store is supposed to stop accepting Mv2 extension submissions sometime this month. As of January 2023, Chrome will stop running extensions created using Mv2, with limited exceptions for enterprise versions of Chrome operating under corporate policy. And by June 2023, even enterprise versions of Chrome will prevent Mv2 extensions from running.

    The anticipated result will be fewer extensions and less innovation, according to several extension developers.

    Continue reading
  • I was fired for blowing the whistle on cult's status in Google unit, says contractor
    The internet giant, a doomsday religious sect, and a lawsuit in Silicon Valley

    A former Google video producer has sued the internet giant alleging he was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle on a religious sect that had all but taken over his business unit. 

    The lawsuit demands a jury trial and financial restitution for "religious discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and related causes of action." It alleges Peter Lubbers, director of the Google Developer Studio (GDS) film group in which 34-year-old plaintiff Kevin Lloyd worked, is not only a member of The Fellowship of Friends, the exec was influential in growing the studio into a team that, in essence, funneled money back to the fellowship.

    In his complaint [PDF], filed in a California Superior Court in Silicon Valley, Lloyd lays down a case that he was fired for expressing concerns over the fellowship's influence at Google, specifically in the GDS. When these concerns were reported to a manager, Lloyd was told to drop the issue or risk losing his job, it is claimed. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022