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Google knows what you look like. This is what it means and how you can unsubscribe



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Google & # 39; s Nest Hub Max has caused quite a stir. CNET

Google & # 39; s largest smart display, the Google Nest Hub Max, contains a controversial feature that is always monitored. Face Match, the name that Google calls technology, keeps a digital eye on passers-by. When it recognizes yours, only displays content for you : photos, messages, appointments and even how long you can expect to work.

This face recognition mode offers great convenience. But the question of how technology companies collect, store and process face data has become a top priority for consumers with a privacy purpose, especially in the aftermath of revelations that a company named Clearview has compiled a database of face photos & # 39; s scraped from social media sites and shared that information with police. Many people want to know what companies like Google do with their personal information, especially once it ends up in the cloud.

Here's a look at how Google and other technical giants record, store, process, and use collected face recognition data by devices such as the Nest Hub Max, as well as some suggestions for what you can possibly do to limit their access.

What is Face Match?

Face Match is a feature on Google's new Nest Hub Max that uses a front camera and always active face recognition software to determine which household member is currently using it. It works as Android Face Unlock and Apple & # 39; s FaceID and uses software similar to what you see in Google Photos, Apple Photos and Facebook to identify people.

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Google & # 39; s Nest Hub Max smart display follows you face



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Why do Google and others scan my face?

The Google Nest Hub Max supports multiple user profiles. Instead of logging in manually, you can use Face Face from Google to scan your face for a & # 39; face model & # 39; that the Nest Hub then uses Max to present personalized information about your calendar appointments, text messages, and so on. It is faster and more convenient than logging in with your fingerprint or via the app.

Do Google and others always view me?

When the Face Match functions of the Google Nest Hub Max are enabled, yes. The Nest Hub Max continuously monitors and analyzes the camera input to detect faces.

Until now, the Nest Hub Max is the first device with such always active face detection. Other devices require a trigger type, such as touching the screen or pressing a physical button, such as with the iPhone (

$ 858 at Amazon

) when activating FaceID.

However, the Nest Hub Max is not the only device that constantly watches its environment. Google Home (

$ 99 at Walmart

) devices, including smart speakers, Amazon Alexa devices and Siri devices such as the Apple HomePod (

$ 299 at Walmart

) as well as some iPhones and Apple Watches (

$ 399 at Amazon

) all listen to trigger words to activate.

Do Google and the others store my face data in the cloud?

Species. Although Google quickly points out that face profiles are stored and processed on the Nest Hub Max itself, it admits that it occasionally fetches face data to the cloud to enhance the & # 39; product experience & # 39; to improve. Google insists that all face data that ends up in the cloud will be deleted after it has been processed.

Other technical companies store and share your face data to varying degrees. In short, if you let a device or service record your face for whatever reason, there is a good chance that it will end up in the cloud in one or the other capacity.

How do I know if image data is being uploaded?

Every time the Google Nest Hub Max sends an image feed to the cloud, for example when you use it as a Nest Cam (

$ 189 at Amazon

) or during a video call a green light near the camera lights up.

The green light only indicates when a live feed is being uploaded, but not necessarily when Google retrieves data stored on the device, such as a face profile. Many other devices have similar visual signals to indicate that the camera is in use. It is not clear that the camera light has a connection with Google uploading face data.

Does Google give this information to companies such as Clearview?

Probably not. Clearview claims that it has deleted publicly available images from social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Most without these companies necessarily being aware of Clearview's actions. In fact, one company – Twitter – has issued a cease-fire letter to Clearview and alleges that the company has violated Twitter's terms of service.

Do Google or Apple use my face data to personalize the ads I see? [19659008] Google insists that it does not use data collected for Face Match or Nest Cam imagery to target advertisements. Apple does not earn any income by selling targeted ads, suggesting it does not use scans of your face in this way.

Can I disable Face Match?

There are three ways to prevent the Google Nest Hub Max from saving face data or constantly scanning faces.

  • Do not enable the Face Match function first.
  • If it is enabled, you can delete your profile and disable Face Match in the device settings.
  • A physical switch on the back of the device can turn off the camera hardware completely, which also disables Face Match, although the device will continue to save face profiles you created.

Why is there no physical shutter on the Google Nest Hub Max like on other devices?

Some people prefer a physical shutter, making it clear that the camera does not record every movement. Google says that the physical switch of the Nest Hub Max, which also disables the microphone, is "functionally equivalent" to a physical shutter.

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Some face recognition software works by creating a unique depth map of your face. CNET

Are there other ways that Google can get my face data?

Different. Google Photos has been using facial recognition technology for a few years now. This allows you to let Google scan your photo library to help identify and tag people who appear on your photos & # 39; s. If you set up face unlocking on Android, choose Google to make a digital map of your face. Not that Face Unlock for Android is currently not safe enough for mobile payments.

Who still collects and processes my face data?

Facebook, which recently has settled a lawsuit in Illinois on the matter has long had face recognition capabilities that can alert you when other people upload photos of you. (Here is how Facebook & # 39; s face recognition software is now disabled.) Apple has also been using iPhone X since 2018 for the FaceID feature of the iPhone (

$ 899 at Amazon

) . The device maker acknowledges that he shares some facial data with external developers.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and other points of sale now use face recognition technology to collect demographic data, such as age and gender, about customers visiting their stores (although many claim not to use the technology to identify or track individuals). Security systems in cities, buildings and airports now routinely deploy face recognition programs, as do many police stations.

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Can I also choose this?

Unfortunately not that easy. With Google Photos, you can choose not to run the Face Recognition tool on your own photos, but you cannot control what other people who uploaded photos of you decide to do.

Facebook has recently switched to an opt-in setting to allow its software to recommend that friends tag you in their photo messages, meaning that the social network will no longer make such suggestions by default. But that does not mean that Facebook does not scan or process your image, only that it does not share that information with other users unless you choose to allow it.

In some situations, such as with Apple's FaceID, you can simply choose not to use that feature, so your face data does not remain in the hands of Apple or the registered developers.

In most situations, especially when the data is collected in public places, such as city streets, restaurants, hotels and shops, there is little to nothing that you can do but hide your face when you leave the house. [19659018] Read more about facial recognition how San Francisco became the first city to forbid the police to use it how it could be banned from social housing and how Microsoft quietly database for face recognition with approximately 10 million images .

Originally published last year.


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