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Google halts face recognition tech before Pixel 4 launch

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.

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.

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.
 

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