Thursday, 28 July 2011

Facial Recognition Software Acquired by Google | Big Brother Watch

Google has announced an acquisition of the facial recognition software born out of Carnegie Mellon University called Pittsburgh Pattern Recognition, or PittPatt.  PittPatt’s site states that they are looking forward to working within the Google team and that its existing computer vision technology partners made the acquisition a natural match.

However, Google may now find itself in a similar situation to that of Facebook in recent months.  After failing to add an ‘opt in’ to its facial recognition software added suggested tagging in photos uploaded to the social networking site, there was a loud response from privacy campaigners and from users upset that the privacy settings used to keep tagged photos private was being put aside by the new technology.

With the launch of the new Google+ and the lessons learned by Facebook, Google must tread lightly.  Privacy settings and integrated facial recognition software are not so logical a partnership as Facebook or Google might like to believe.  Even with adequate privacy settings in place, the arguments against facial recognition capabilities hold water.  Google already developed a facial recognition programme for smartphone use through Google Goggles, but withheld it out of concerns for privacy.   The lesson learned by Facebook is that this software is not for social networking sites.