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Google contractors were reportedly told to target the homeless for facial scans

Recently, Google was reportedly developing a facial recognition feature for the Pixel 4 that would rival the iPhone’s. At the time, reports indicated that Google contractors were simply roaming the streets and offering $5 to people in exchange for a facial scan.

Now, new details have come to light about the practice. According to the New York Daily News, Apple contractors were directed to “target homeless people” because they would be less likely to say anything to the media. These people were reportedly not told anything about what they were doing, simply that they would get $5 gift cards in exchange for a facial scan. Some were even lied to — being told that the scan was a “selfie game” similar to Snapchat.

According to one contractor, team members were told to mention a California law, saying that gift cards under $10 could be exchanged for cash.

Some reports also indicated that contractors were directed to target people with darker skin. That, however, may not be so insidious. Some facial recognition tech in the past has come under scrutiny for not working as well for people of color, which could be owed to the companies largely only testing the tech on white people. It’s likely Google wants to avoid that scrutiny and develop tech that works for a diverse range of people.

The reports also detailed the devices that the contractors used to take facial scans. As can be seen in the images, the device that was used is clearly a phone — but it looks like it has some kind of security cage around it. It’s unclear if Google simply used Pixel 4 prototypes, with Google’s Project Soli tech, or if it used different, purpose-built devices altogether. The device seems to look like all the Pixel 4 leaks, showing a phone with a larger forehead. We also know that Google finalized the design for the Pixel 4 months ago, given the fact that it started teasing the device with images of the phone as early as June.

The Google Pixel 4 is expected to be officially announced on October 15 at an event in New York City.

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