As consumers test Google’s Glass device on the streets and subways of America, many people have raised privacy concerns about the possibility of developers creating facial recognition apps for the wearable computers. But Google is trying to calm those fears by saying it won’t allow such apps… for the time-being.
In a blog post from Friday, the Google Glass team writes, “We’ve been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass. As Google has said for several years, we won’t add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place. With that in mind, we won’t be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time.”
Furthermore, Ars Technica points to changes in the Google Glass developer policies that forbid developers from using t”he camera or microphone to cross-reference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print.”
“Applications that do this will not be approved at this time,” reads the policy. You’ll note that Google again uses the phrase, “at this time.”
Aside from the question of when Google will eventually drop this facial recognition ban (there is too much money to be made with the technology, and money almost always trumps privacy), the bigger issue is developers who go through non-Google channels to release facial recognition apps for Glass. Many Android users have apps on their phones and tablets that they didn’t get through Google Play but through third-party sources. As Glass rolls out into the marketplace, it remains to be seen whether Google will try to keep a tighter rein on what apps are and aren’t allowed to be installed on the device.