Google announced this week that it won’t sell its facial recognition technology before a thorough consideration of the impact it might have on society.
According to a report from Engadget, Google will not immediately sell its facial recognition technology. In a statement, Google said that they have to carefully consider how the technology might be abused by others.
“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,” Google said in the statement. “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.”
Facial recognition technology has been in the news lately. Fans of Taylor Swift have been expressing their concern about the technology after learning that the pop star uses it to track stalkers at her live shows.
A representative from the ACLU said that Google could be making a major mistake by putting their facial recognition technology in the hands of law enforcement agencies.
“This is a strong first step,” the ACLU’s Nicole Ozer said in a statement. “Google today demonstrated that, unlike other companies doubling down on efforts to put dangerous face surveillance technology into the hands of law enforcement and ICE, it has a moral compass and is willing to take action to protect its customers and communities. Google also made clear that all companies must stop ignoring the grave harms these surveillance technologies pose to immigrants and people of color, and to our freedom to live our lives, visit a church, or participate in a protest without being tracked by the government.”
Microsoft recently published a list of principles that prevent organizations and governments from abusing facial recognition technology. Ironically, protecting the privacy of those scanned by the technology is one of the principles laid out by Microsoft.