Google blocks face match in states with biometric laws
18 January 2018 14:49 GMT

Google has confirmed that its Arts & Culture app, which matches your face to a historical painting, has been blocked in certain states with laws protecting biometric data.

Google confirmed to CNN Tech that the face-matching tool is not available in Illinois and Texas.

While the company declined to comment on why, the issue likely stems from laws in Illinois and Texas that put restrictions on how companies can use biometric data such as facial scans and fingerprints. 

The Chicago Tribune was first to report on the laws affecting the feature's availability.

The feature, which propelled the app to the top of the list of most downloaded iPhone apps over the weekend, uses basic computer vision to scan your face. It then matches your selfie with doppelgängers from its digital collection of paintings pulled from its museum partners all over the world. Google said it deletes your photo after a match is made.

On Wednesday, Google said people have taken more than 30 million selfies on the app.

Sam Trosow, privacy expert at Western University’s faculty of law told Global News that the app does risk privacy norms.

“This type of personal content is indeed extremely valuable from a potential monetization and/or marketing perspective,” he told Global News. “It could also assist the company in R&D for facial recognition products.”

Google clarified to the Washington Post that the selfies aren’t being stored or used to train machine learning programs.

In fact, the company has said the app will only store the picture for the time it needs to match the picture.