Report: Facebook Wants to Build Facial Recognition Tech into ‘Smart Glasses’

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A recent report from BuzzFeed News alleges that social media giant Facebook is considering building facial recognition technology into its upcoming smart glasses product.

In a recent report titled “Facebook Is Considering Facial Recognition For Its Upcoming Smart Glasses,” BuzzFeed News writes that the social media giant Facebook is discussing building facial recognition into its upcoming smart glasses product and has been weighing the legal implications of the tech according to executives at an internal meeting this week.

BuzzFeed News writes:

During a scheduled companywide meeting, Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of augmented and virtual reality, told employees that the company is currently assessing whether or not it has the legal capacity to offer facial recognition on devices that are reportedly set to launch later this year. Nothing had been decided, he said, and he noted that current state laws may make it impossible for Facebook to offer people the ability to search for others based on pictures of their face.

“Face recognition … might be the thorniest issue, where the benefits are so clear, and the risks are so clear, and we don’t know where to balance those things,” Bosworth said in response to an employee question about whether people would be able to “mark their faces as unsearchable” when smart glasses become a prevalent technology. The unnamed worker specifically highlighted fears about the potential for “real-world harm,” including “stalkers.”

Following publication of this story, Bosworth wrote on Twitter that “we’ve been open about our efforts to build [augmented reality] glasses and are still in the early stages.”

“Face recognition is a hugely controversial topic and for good reason and I was speaking about was how we are going to have to have a very public discussion about the pros and cons,” he said.

Bosworth reportedly told employees on Thursday: “The real question is whether we will be able to recognize any faces at all, and we don’t know. Legally, the answer might be no, if you’re familiar with BIPA in Illinois … people are making face recognition illegal.” Bosworth added: “That’s ok. We can do that as a society and this product will survive and thrive without it. I do think there are some lost opportunities, though.”

Facebook Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams reportedly noted during the conversation that the company may need to develop its own principles on facial recognition that would take precedence in places where there are no laws governing the technology; such as Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) which ordered Facebook last year to pay $650 million to Illinois citizens for violating BIPA with the company’s photo-tagging feature.

Williams reported stated: “Just because you can [build something,] doesn’t mean you will,” noting that the company would have to consider the product’s potential for harm and discrimination.

Read more at BuzzFeed News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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