Google smart to put off facial recognition technology

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Google is well known for looking into a wide range of technologies. Remember its late 2010 foray into wind power? However, it has decided to hold off on pursuing facial recognition technology, former CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday at the All Things Digital D9 conference, according to various reports.

Schmidt was “particularly freaked out about the potential damage that a combination of facial recognition and mobile tracking can do,” to quote All Things Digital's Peter Kafka. In late March, Google denied a report by Time's Techland blog that it was developing a facial recognition app that would allow a consumer to take a photo of someone, match that photo to their Google profile, then receive that person's contact information.

Schmidt was wise to decide that facial recognition technology is a bridge too far  for consumers, especially considering that the company's monitoring of mobile devices doesn't sit well with some. Think of the consumer and media outrage that would have occurred if Google had released a facial recognition app around the time that its executives were defending the company's privacy policies on Capitol Hill. Schmidt and his colleagues on Google's management team made a good decision to punt that outrage at least a few years down the road.

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