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Money doesn't smell: how Google makes money on the homeless

Google Contractors tricked into collecting biometric data

Google's contractors tricked them into collecting biometric data for their research, targeting homeless people and students, foreign media reported. At the same time, the employees of the “corporation of good” were deliberately dragged into this work, forbidding them to tell why they needed information, and also taught special phrases designed to mislead participants in the study.

Google collects a large amount of biometric data to improve the face scanner of the upcoming Pixel 4 smartphone. The corporation needs so many people of different sexes and nationalities that in July Google admitted that it hired specially trained people who scanned people on the streets, giving them premium gifts certificates cost $5.

The fact of such a “field” data collection was officially confirmed by the company.

“We regularly conduct research involving volunteers. Our recent study of collecting face samples for machine learning has two goals. One of them is the creation of an objective face scanner for Pixel 4. It is critically important for us that we have a wide variety of samples for creating an inclusive product. The second goal is security. The scanner in Pixel 4 will be a powerful security measure, and we want it to protect as many people as possible, ” said a Google spokesperson.

However, as it turned out, to achieve these goals and collect the maximum amount of information, Google does not hesitate to use questionable methods that raise questions about their legality.

So, several people who were hired by Google said that they were forced to collect data from homeless or unsuspecting students near college campuses. It is reported that neither one nor the other would complain to the authorities, even if they felt a dishonest game.

“They [the leadership] asked to communicate with the homeless because they are unlikely to tell the press anything. Homeless people didn’t understand what was going on at all, ” said an ex-Google employee.

Also, information collectors were allowed to offer the homeless to instantly cash out a gift certificate and give them money, if that would make them more accommodating.

Students whose faces were scanned told the New York Daily News that no one had ever mentioned Google in a conversation. It was assumed that biometry is needed for some research or a mobile application. Some students thought they were dealing with peers from another college, so they did not even think about the dangers.

Contractors argue that their superiors especially encouraged communication with people of the Negroid or Mongoloid race since it is such biometric material that is too little for research. In addition, they were asked to hide the fact that people were being shot in order to maximize the data collected.

Some collected biometric under the guise of a kind of “selfie game”. Others offered to play on a smartphone for a couple of minutes and get a present for it. Of course, Google contractors were forbidden to say why this information was collected.

At the same time, workers were specially trained, teaching them individual words and phrases that are designed to distract a person if he suddenly suspects something strange.

“I got the feeling that we are being trained to attack the weak,” recalls one of these contractors.

Jacob Snow, a technology lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the tactics described above are cause for concern. According to him, when the California Consumer Protection Act comes into force next year, companies will be required to explain to people what their personal data is specifically collected for.

However, even now, companies are required to obey the Fifth paragraph of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits cheating on market participants.

“Confidentiality is a fundamental right, not a privilege for those who can afford it. Google should know that such a collection of information from the most vulnerable segments of the population is evil. The story that people really gave their consent to this, although the process itself was clearly misleading, is pure fiction, ” says Snow.

According to him, the question of holding Google accountable for such behavior is “legally difficult”, but the expert did not rule out this possibility.

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