An Illinois man has filed a lawsuit against Google for biometric theft and collecting what he calls “face templates” through Google Photos. Joseph Weiss says Google is breaking the law by keeping users biometric facial information on their servers without the users written consent. Google Photos uses algorithms to identify faces in users photos for easier tagging and organization. The process also helps when tagging faces and people in social network sharing but Mr. Weiss claims in doing this Google has access to what amounts to your fingerprint.
“Google creates these templates using sophisticated facial recognition technology that extracts and analyzes data from the points and contours of faces that appear in photos taken on Google ‘Droid’ devices and uploaded to the cloud-based Google Photos service,” the lawsuit said. “Each face template that Google extracts is unique to a particular individual, in the same way that a fingerprint or voiceprint uniquely identifies one and only one person.
“These unique face templates are not only collected and used by Google Photos to identify individuals by name, but also to recognize their gender, age and location. ”
The templates were harvested from photos of “thousands of unwitting Illinois residents,” the suit alleged. Damages from Google’s actions exceed $5 million, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit cited 2012 testimony from U.S. Sen. Al Franken in the Senate, concerning the potential for abuse of facial-recognition technology, for example “to not only identify protesters at political events and rallies, but to target them for selective jailing and prosecution.”
It’s a debatable argument and hearing what the judge will have to say about this one is going to be interesting. Google is a company that harvests personal data, it is how they make their money. When using most of the Google ecosystem you should understand they are constantly pulling not only your photo information but also your personal habits, likes and dislikes. We’ll try and keep track of this case and return with results at some point in the future.
What do you think of the claims of biometric theft and this particular case against Google? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.