No matter how many times I read it or write it, I feel weird that Google is agreeing to not sell facial recognition information. It makes me squirm knowing that they have to decide on what to do with data on my statuesque face. Spearheaded by Microsoft, the movement calling for stricter policies pertaining to sharing information finally roped Google into jumping on board.
The final tipping point was the potential for abuse with this highly sensitive data.
[F]acial recognition technology has benefits in areas like new assistive technologies and tools to help find missing persons, with more promising applications on the horizon. However, like many technologies with multiple uses, facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes. We continue to work with many organizations to identify and address these challenges, and unlike some other companies, Google Cloud has chosen not to offer general-purpose facial recognition APIs before working through important technology and policy questions.
Kent Walker, Google SVP
The ACLU has voiced its concern over the tech giant using its immense power to create technology that could blur the lines between convenience and a rabbit trail of ethics violations. But it’s not just Google they’re concerned about. Amazon’s ability to collect information on our habits, tendencies and private information puts them at the top of the ACLU’s watch list.
We will continue to put Google’s feet to the fire to make sure it doesn’t build or sell a face surveillance product that violates civil and human rights. We also renew our call on Amazon and Microsoft to not provide dangerous face surveillance to the government. Companies have a responsibility to make sure their products can’t be used to attack communities and harm civil rights and liberties — it’s past time all companies own up to that responsibility.
Nicole Ozer, ACLU tech director
As technology gets faster and more integrated into every aspect of our lives, there will be more potential for our information to get sold or misused. We’ve all seen the futuristic movies and we all know how this ends. Make sure your archery skills are up-to-date, you take the red pill, and be wary of men riding motorcycles with Austrian accents.