Google knows what you look like. Here you can find out what this means and how you can decide against CNET

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Google's Nest Hub Max caused a sensation.

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Google's largest smart display, the Google Nest Hub Max, contains a controversial feature that always looks out. Face Match, the name that Google calls technology, keeps a digital eye open for passing faces. If it recognizes yours, it is shows content just for you: Photos, messages, appointments and even how long you can be on the way to work.

This type of face recognition offers a lot of convenience. However, the question of how tech companies collect, store and process facial data has become a key issue for privacy-minded consumers, especially in the wake of revelations a company called Clearview has compiled a database of facial photos removed from social media sites and shared this information with the police. Many people want to know how companies like Google handle their personal data, especially when they get to the cloud.

Learn how Google and other technology companies collect, store, process, and use facial recognition data collected from devices like the Nest Hub Max. You will also find some suggestions on how you can possibly restrict access.

What is Face Match?

Face Match is a feature in Google's new Nest Hub Max that uses a front-facing camera and constantly available facial recognition software to determine which household member is currently using it. It works like Android Face Unlock and Apple's FaceID and uses similar software like Google Photos, Apple Photos and Facebook to identify people.

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Why is Google and others scanning my face?

The Google Nest Hub Max supports multiple user profiles. Instead of manually signing in, you can use Google Face Match to scan your face to create a "face model" that Nest Hub Max uses to display personalized information about your calendar appointments, text messages, and more. It's faster and more convenient than signing in with your fingerprint or through the app.

Do Google and others always watch me?

Yes, if the Face Match features of Google Nest Hub Max are activated. The Nest Hub Max constantly monitors and analyzes the inputs of the camera to recognize faces.

So far, the Nest Hub Max is the first device with such facial recognition. A type of trigger is required for other devices, e.g. B. Touch the screen or press a physical button like iPhone (

$ 858 at Amazon

) when activating FaceID.

However, the Nest Hub Max is not the only device that constantly pays attention to its surroundings. Google Home (

$ 99 at Walmart

) Devices, including smart speakers, Amazon Alexa devices, and Siri-enabled devices like the Apple HomePod (

$ 299 at Walmart

) as well as some iPhones and Apple Watches (

$ 399 at Amazon

), everyone is waiting for words to activate them.

Does Google and the others save my facial data in the cloud?

Type of. Although Google is quick to point out that facial profiles are stored and processed on the Nest Hub Max itself, there are occasional facial data requests to the cloud to improve the "product experience". Google insists that all facial data in the cloud will be deleted after processing is complete.

Other technology companies store and share your facial data to different degrees. If for some reason you have a device or service record your face, it will likely show up in one capacity or another in the cloud.

How can I tell if image data is being uploaded?

The Google Nest Hub Max transfers an image feed to the cloud at any time, e.g. B. if you use it as a nest cam (

$ 189 at Amazon

) When there is a video call, a green light lights up near the camera.

The green light only indicates when a live feed is uploaded. However, this does not have to be the case when Google retrieves data stored on the device, e.g. B. a facial profile. Many other devices have similar visual cues that indicate that the camera is in use. It is not clear that the light from the camera is in any way related to the uploading of facial data by Google.

Does Google share this information with companies like Clearview?

Unlikely. Clearview claims to have discarded publicly available images from social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Most of them without these companies being aware of Clearview's actions. In fact, a company – Twitter – Clearview has issued a cease and desist statement alleging that the company violated Twitters' terms of use.

Do Google or Apple use my facial information to personalize the ads displayed?

Google insists that it doesn't use data collected for Face Match or Nest Cam shots to target ads. Apple does not generate revenue from selling targeted ads, which indicates that it does not use scans of your face in this way.

Can I turn off Face Match?

There are three ways to prevent Google Nest Hub Max from storing face data or constantly looking for faces.

  • Do not activate the "Face detection" function.
  • If it is activated, you can delete your profile and deactivate Face Match in the device settings.
  • A physical switch on the back of the device can completely disable the camera hardware, which also disables facial recognition, although the device still stores all the facial profiles you have created.

Why isn't there a physical lock on the Google Nest Hub Max like on other devices?

Some people may prefer a physical shutter, which makes it clear that the camera is not recording your every move. According to Google, the physical switch of the Nest Hub Max, which also deactivates the microphone, corresponds "functionally to a physical shutter".

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Some facial recognition programs create a unique depth map of your face.

CNET

Are there other ways that Google can collect my facial data?

Several. Google Photos has had facial recognition technology for several years. With this feature, you can have your photo library scanned by Google to identify and optimize it label People who appear in your photos. When you set up face unlock on Android, turn on Google to create a digital map of your face. At the moment, Face Unlock for Android is not yet secure enough for mobile payments.

Who is still collecting and processing my facial data?

Facebook recently has settled a lawsuit in Illinois over the matter, has long had facial recognition features that notify you when other people upload photos of you. (This is how it works Disable Facebook's facial recognition software Apple has also been using facial data for the FaceID function of the iPhone since 2018 (

$ 899 at Amazon

), The device manufacturer acknowledges that it shares some facial data with third-party developers.

Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retail stores are now using facial recognition technologies to collect demographic information, such as the age and gender of customers who visit their stores (although many claim not to use this technology to identify or track people). Security systems in cities, buildings and airports routinely use facial recognition programs today, as do many police authorities.

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Can I unsubscribe from all of these?

Unfortunately not very easy. With Google Photos, you can choose not to run the facial recognition tool on your own photos. However, you cannot control which other people who may have uploaded photos of you want to do so.

Facebook recently enabled an opt-in setting so the software suggests friends to tag you in their photo postings. This means that the social network no longer makes such suggestions by default. However, this does not mean that Facebook will not scan or process your image, but that it will only share this information with other users if you allow it.

In some situations, such as Apple & # 39; s FaceID, you can simply disable this feature so that your facial data does not get into the hands of Apple or the registered developers.

However, in most situations, especially when the data is collected in public places such as city streets, restaurants, hotels, and retail stores, there is little you can do other than cover your face when you leave the house.

For more information on face recognition, see How San Francisco was the first city to prohibit the police from using ithow it could be Ban on social housing and how Microsoft quietly a Face recognition database with approx. 10 million images,

Originally released last year.