Google has been caught paying users for their face data. According to ZDNet, the search giant has reportedly paid $5 for face data of one of its writers’ friends. The report claims that the person was sitting around in New York and was approached by someone who claimed to work for Google. The Google employee then asked the person if they would use an unidentifiable device to scan their face. The person then told ZDNet writer that the device in question was kept in a large case and was hard to identify.

Google collecting face data: Here is why?

The details from this report has led to speculation that Google is collecting face data for its upcoming Pixel 4 smartphone. It is unclear why Google would approach real people for their face data and why it would pay them for that data. The search giant has so many resources at its disposal that it can build facial recognition data on its own. The incident narrated in the report suggests that Google does not want to bank on its laurels and use outside data as well to test its face-scanning technology.

Those who agree to share their face data are reportedly getting a $5 gift card from Google. After they agreed, the report claims these people are asked to sign a waiver and then their face is scanned. Once the process is completed, Google employee offers them a $5 gift card. Google is doing this out in the public “collecting data to improve the next generation of facial recognition phone unlocking.” While ZDNet article highlights Google’s face data buying activity, the company seems to be doing it for some time now.

A Reddit user “oheightthirtytwo” posted about Google collecting face data publicly in the /r/GooglePixel subreddit about a month ago. The thread notes that the person was approached by a stranger in New York and was offered a $5 Starbucks gift card for allowing to scan their face. This person also describes the test device (a smartphone) kept in “a very thick, boxy, inconspicuous case”. The description is making everyone believe that the test device is a Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL. With Pixel 4 series, Google is rumored to adopt a face recognition system similar to Apple’s Face ID.

Considering Google’s vast business products, one cannot ascertain that it is collecting the data for Pixel 4 series. However, the camouflaged device does hint at a smartphone with facial recognition support. The real-world face data will help Google’s AI better understand faces while unlocking the device or authenticating payments. However, the big question that users to need to ask is whether their facial data is worth only $5 and should they sell it.

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