Google Is Testing Facial Recognition Technology But Employees Can’t Opt Out

( — The internet giant Google is testing out some new facial recognition security at a location in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, Washington.

According to the description of the new program, the intent is to prevent people from entering the secure corporate campus. While all large corporate offices have security, some people are concerned about the privacy violation of a digital system that no employee is allowed to opt out of. Employees can fill out a form to opt of having their ID images stored, although the description of the program indicates that the data is not stored and is only for “immediate use”.

As part of the testing phase, employee ID badges are being used by the facial recognition technology. However, Google representatives say that they will not be using the employee badges for the program in the future. The division behind the project is Security and Resilience Services (GSRS). They claim that the purpose of the facial recognition program is to mitigate any possible security risks. Some have characterized this as yet another of Google’s moves to be at the forefront of AI-driven surveillance development and deployment.

There have been many accusations of Google violating privacy rights over the years. In November of 2010, they entered official Supreme Court jurisdiction when they intruded on private homes’ wireless networks. In that case, they were accused of breaking wiretap legislation. In 2020, they faced a lawsuit for tracking Chrome user’s online activities when in “incognito” mode. In 2023, they were forced to delete user data as part of a settlement in a consumer privacy lawsuit. While clearly interested in facial recognition technology, it is a volatile subject due to privacy concerns around automated surveillance.

A Google spokesperson said that their security team has been developing new systems and protections in order to keep their campuses safer. There was an incident in 2018 when a disgruntled Youtuber, Nasim Najafi Aghdam, entered the San Bruno, California, YouTube’s office and shot three people. The new program could prevent similar situations by providing important data needed for identifying, reporting, and potentially removing known unauthorized persons. Some are concerned that the AI facial recognition will be used against the employees, though. Chris Rackow, Google’s vice president of global security, recently confirmed video camera footage helped them identify staffers who took part in protests in April.

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