Google is paying people $5 for an image of all angles of their face

Google is using people's entries to train its face authentication systems.


In an attempt to gather face data to better train its facial recognition software, Google is now handing out $5 Amazon and Starbucks gift cards to people willing to share their facial data with the company. It was found that the reams of facial data collected this way were used for training the facial recognition system on the tech giant’s upcoming smartphone offering, Pixel 4.

Google is sending several teams equipped with a smartphone and $5 Amazon and Starbucks gift cards for collecting as much facial data as possible.

These teams, upon approaching people are stating that they are collecting facial data for improving the next generation of smartphones coming with face unlock. People are asked to hold these specially equipped smartphones in the front-facing camera mode to capture their face in various angles. Post this, participants have to sign a waiver form after which they receive the $5 gift cards.

Android Police discovered that the tech giant was launching its upcoming pixel phone— Pixel 4 as a part of its smartphone line-up of flagship Android phones. Much like Apple, Google is planning on deploying a face-authentication system.

Such systems need to be trained over large samples of faces for a fool-proof working. With several sources pointing that the phone is likely to release in October this year, Google has to collect as much data as it can, for training the facial recognition system on the upcoming smartphone.

It seems like the tech giant has devised a simple hassle-free plan for collecting a large amount of facial data by giving $5 gift cards in return it. However, handing over your facial data to tech companies may not be a wise decision.

Adam Harvey, a privacy and surveillance researcher has been researching face datasets from nearly a decade. Based on his studies, he found that tech companies and government intelligence agencies are constantly on the look-out for facial data to train their facial recognition and biometry algorithms.

“There’s an academic network of data-sharing because it’s considered publicly beneficial to collaborate. But researchers are ignoring the stark reality that once your face is in a dataset, it’s impossible to get out of it because it’s already been downloaded and re-used all over the world,” said Harvey.

By willingly handing over their facial data to a tech company, people may potentially find their images in datasets all over the world used for training several algorithms. At a point of time where deep fakes are wreaking havoc, it is advisable to be cautious about handing out facial data to tech companies.


Naga Pramod

Naga Pramod is a computer science major and tech news reporter with a passion for cyber security, networking, and data science. [email protected]