An app on jailbroken Google Glass devices would enable consumers to use facial recognition to find out personal details including a person’s name, photos, and dating website profiles. U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, said he has serious privacy concerns about a new app called NameTag.
Google has banned facial recognition apps on Google Glass because of privacy concerns. Franken asked the app’s makers to limit the facial recognition feature to only those people who have given prior consent. He also asked the FacialNetwork.com, the maker of NameTag, to delay launching the app until best practices for facial recognition technology are established, noting that the app raises serious concerns for personal safety and individual privacy.
NameTag enables strangers get a range of personal information simply by looking at that person’s face with the Glass camera. This is done without that person’s knowledge or consent. “I urge you to delay this app’s launch until best practices for facial recognition technology are established-a process that I’ve long called for,” Franken states in a letter. “At a minimum, NameTag should only identify people who have given the app permission to do so.”
Later, Sen. Franken added, “I am especially concerned that NameTag plans to scan dating websites such as Match and OkCupid. It is easy to envision how this technology could facilitate harassment, stalking, and other threats to personal security. Your company has an obligation to protect users from these threats.”
This isn’t Franken’s first foray into the privacy and biometric arena. In 2012, Sen. Franken held a hearing in his subcommittee on facial recognition technology, in which a Facebook representative refused to assure users that his company would not sell or share its face print database with third party apps.
Last September, Franken pressed Facebook to reconsider a significant expansion of its face print database and after the social networking site proceeded anyway, he successfully pressed the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to study facial recognition technology. The NTIA will begin this in February in Washington at a meeting of industry and privacy experts, the first in a series of meetings designed to produce best practices for facial recognition technology.