Before we all get in a huff about this, Google has been very eager to point out that the facial recognition app it's developing will work on a strictly opt-in
basis. That means if you don't want it to scan all of Facebook, Flickr and the rest of Google's vast hoards of internet knowledge to find you, identify you, and collate your name, phone number and email address into a handy data sheet, it won't. Okay? So relax now, everything's fine
. Seriously though, Google's latest research venture sounds like a dashing stride into a minefield of privacy concerns as it aims to use people's faces to instantly identify them and provide any salient info about them. Project leader Hartmut Neven, whose company Neven Vision was gobbled up by Google in 2006, says the team is being very cautious in how it addresses people's rather apt apprehension, but he insists there's actually great value in having a face-recognizing and data-mining app. Great value for the app's user, perhaps, but we'd rather just stick to business cards, if you ask us.
Google has reached out to clarify that there are no plans to introduce functionality of this sort yet, not without "a strong privacy model in place." More importantly, however, the linking of facial recognition to personal data is described as "inventions of the reporter" rather than something the company's actively pursuing.