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Google Puts Hold on its Facial Recognition Research Before Pixel 4 Launch

On Friday, Nina Hickson, Atlanta’s city attorney, sent a letter to Google asking for an explanation, according to cbs46.com

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FILE - A woman walks past the logo for Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai, Nov. 5, 2018. VOA

Google has put on hold its facial recognition research for the Pixel 4 smartphone after a report claimed it was bribing the homeless to scan their faces for the price of a cup of coffee in order to improve the tech giant’s facial recognition technology.

The tech giant reportedly said it has launched a probe into the research which was subcontracted to a firm named Randstad.

“The company had been using the technique to grow its database ahead of the launch of the Pixel 4, which is expected to have face unlock as its primary security feature. It said it was to ensure that there was no potential bias, particularly against people of colour, which has been a significant issue for facial recognition in the past,” The Inquirer reported on Monday.

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FILE – The Google logo is seen at a start-up campus in Paris, France, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

The subjects or the homeless people were offered a gift card worth $5 to scan their faces.

Meanwhile, officials in the US city of Atlanta are seeking answers from Google on the matter.

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On Friday, Nina Hickson, Atlanta’s city attorney, sent a letter to Google asking for an explanation, according to cbs46.com.

“The possibility that members of our most vulnerable populations are being exploited to advance your company’s commercial interest is profoundly alarming for numerous reasons,” Hichson said in a letter to Kent Walker, Google’s legal and policy chief, added the cbs46.com report. (IANS)

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Apple Refutes Report of Sharing Safari Data with Tencent or Google

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he believes privacy is "ingrained in the Constitution," but that he's worried about how third-party companies have worked to collect information on us

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

After media reports surfaced that Apple is sending iOS users’ data via its Safari browser to Google and the Chinese tech company Tencent, the Cupertino-based iPhone maker refuted such reports, saying it safeguards people’s information in its own systems and never shares it with third-party players.

A report in reclaimthenet.org stated that “Apple, which often positions itself as a champion of privacy and human rights, may be sending some IP addresses from users of its Safari browser on iOS to Chinese conglomerate Tencent — a company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party”.

The report focused on Apple’s “fraudulent website warning” system which is built into Apple’s Safari web browser to warn people when they visit sites that are harmful and can trick users into sharing login passwords for banks, email and social media.

“Before visiting a website, Safari may send information calculated from the website address to Google Safe Browsing and Tencent Safe Browsing to check if the website is fraudulent. These browsing providers may also log your IP address,’ read the information on Apple’s “Safari & Privacy” section.

It’s unclear when Apple started allowing Tencent and Google to log some user IP addresses, but one Twitter user reported the change in Safari happened as early as the iOS 12.2 beta in February 2019, said the report.

Google on an Android device. Pixabay

In a statement, the company said it actually doesn’t send information to Google or Tencent.

“Instead, it receives a list of bad websites from both companies and then uses it to protect people as they surf the web. Apple sometimes obscures the information about the website people visit if it requests more information to check if a questionable website is malicious,” CNET reported on Monday, citing Apple’s statement.

Also Read: Kerala Unable to get Medics from Reserved Category

For people concerned about their privacy, the service can be turned off in Safari preferences on the iPhone or Mac.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said he believes privacy is “ingrained in the Constitution,” but that he’s worried about how third-party companies have worked to collect information on us. (IANS)