Google Is ‘Buying’ People’s Faces With Gift Cards

July 22nd, 2019 4:05 PM

Worried about your privacy online? You probably shouldn’t sell the rights to your face to a tech company. 

Google employees are taking to the streets of New York City and asking random people for their face data. The search engine company is “gathering data,” probably to prepare for the release of the Pixel 4, Google’s new phone. The product will have Google’s own version of “Face ID” installed into it. 

 Don’t worry, they’re being compensated for the rights to their face: one blogger reported that his friend received a five-dollar gift card to Amazon or Starbucks. (Although five dollars at Starbucks doesn’t get you much these days.) “Googlologists” approach people like Girl Scouts selling cookies and ask if they can take pictures of your face.

The interaction goes, “Hi I work for Google and we’re collecting data to improve the next generation of facial recognition phone unlocking.” Intrigued? You have to sign a waiver, effectively signing away the rights to your face. 

The Google employee then uses a phone “in a large case” to scan your face at different angles. 

Google has 98,771 employees as of 2019. How come the employees aren’t offering to have their faces used as the test for the face algorithm? Do they know something we don’t?

In the ZDNet story about this personal interaction, the Google representative involved told the subject of the test that there were several Google teams in different cities collecting data for their new product. 

ZDNet asked Google what it planned on doing with the face data, but did not get a response.