CHICAGO — Who hasn’t thought of themselves from time to time as a real piece of art? Now, thanks to Google’s month-old feature on its, our humble selfies can be matched to what the app says is a double, probably hanging on a museum wall somewhere.
Yet users in Illinois and Texas can’t use that selfie feature. Google removed it, and it won’t really say why.
It appears the company was avoiding a conflict with the states, both of which have tough laws on biometric identification, or using faces, fingers or eyes to identify someone.
Chris Dore’s law firm has sued tech companies for biometric usage and says the law requires Google and other tech companies to explain how the data is being collected and what it’s being used for. They also have to obtain consent from the user.
“You can’t replace your face like you could with a credit card,” Dore said. “So once you have given this information to a company you are at risk of what they may do with that and where it may go from there.”
Google says it doesn’t use your selfie for anything else and only keeps it for the time it takes to search for matches.
Over the last few days, the company says more than 30 million selfies have been uploaded using its app, which works out to about 450,000 an hour.
Chicago artist Julia Guettler thinks the app sounds like it would be great, if only she could use it. She explains that she started looking for it, but it was nowhere to be found. She thinks the security concerns about the app are overblown.
“I think it’s a great idea to spark interest in people and make art accessible,” Guettler said.
Not all the matches are exact. For example, while a network anchorman can surely savor his resemblance to the biblical David, a correspondent, who obtained his match surreptitiously, is paired with an 18th century Venetian artist.
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