A recent report alleges that Google targeted homeless people with “darker skin tones” to capture their biometric data to improve the tech giant’s facial unlock system.
The New York Daily News reports that although Google admitted to having employees in multiple cities offer people $5 gift certificates to sell their facial data and improve the Google facial unlock system, it has recently been claimed that a contracting firm working for Google sent teams to Atlanta to explicitly target homeless people and individuals with dark skin.
These contractors reportedly did not tell the homeless people they interacted with that they worked for Google or that they were recording people’s faces. Several sources stated that a contracting firm working for Google named Randstad sent teams to Atlanta explicitly to target homeless people and individuals with dark skin.
One source told the Daily News that although Google did not essentially know that homeless people were being targeted, they did instruct contractors to seek out individuals with “darker skin tones.” One former staffer stated: “They said to target homeless people because they’re the least likely to say anything to the media. The homeless people didn’t know what was going on at all.”
Contractors were reportedly told to characterize the facial scanning process as a “selfie game” similar to Snapchat. One contractor stated that they were told to tell people to “Just play with the phone for a couple minutes and get a gift card,” and, “We have a new app, try it and get $5.” Contractors were also reportedly told to entice people to take part by telling them of a California state law which says that gift cards valued at less than $10 can be exchanged for cash.