Facial recognition applications are nothing new, but one that filters through social media and dating profiles, a sex offender registry and criminal histories is raising privacy concerns.
Developed by FacialNetwork.com, the NameTag app scans a person's face against records and matches it with information on the Internet, other photos and social media profiles. It's technology will also scan profiles of dating sites and more than 450,000 entries in the National Sex Offender Public Registry and criminal databases, a press release about the app explained.
The NameTag app is meant to help users identify people and information about them on the street drawing upon its user database and publicly available information, but it's raising privacy concerns among some. (Image source: NameTag)
“I believe that this will make online dating and offline social interactions much safer and give us a far better understanding of the people around us,” NameTag’s creator Kevin Alan Tussy said in a statement. “It’s much easier to meet interesting new people when we can simply look at someone, see their Facebook, review their LinkedIn page or maybe even see their dating site profile. Often we were interacting with people blindly or not interacting at all. NameTag on Google Glass can change all that.”
The app is also available for Android and iPhone users.
Watch how the app works:
Tussy said that the app isn't "about invading anyone’s privacy; it’s about connecting people that want to be connected."
The news release explained that users can choose "whether or not they want their name and information displayed to others" and it includes different settings for business and social situations.
An example of what a NameTag app user's personal profile could look like when scanned and brought up by another app user. (Image source: NameTag)
But as Sophos Naked Security blog pointed out, this is only for the app's users, "but the rest of us are apparently sitting ducks." The security blog compared the app to the controversial "Girls Around Me" app, which was pulled for privacy reasons.
"Unfortunately, it sounds as if the only way to control sensitive information is to join NameTag and create your own profile," Lisa Vaas wrote for Naked Security. "The theoretical woman in the street, if she's made her phone number or address public anywhere online, won't be afforded that privacy control, in spite of never having opted in to this service."
CNET's Michelle Starr held similar sentiments and wrote that the app "seems to cross some pretty serious privacy boundaries."
Here's another demo of the app:
The news release about the app acknowledged that even Google seems to side with those who have privacy concerns over facial recognition, not supporting such technology with Glass. But NameTag creators feel these issues can be overcome.
“There will be many providers of augmented reality headsets and even if facial recognition is not supported by some, I’m confident that there will be solutions for such limitations," Tussy said in a statement.