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Privacy concerns have forced Google to delay an expansion of its Goggles service which would have enabled camera-phone users to identify strangers on the street. The experimental Google Goggles application, which was launched disabled dating app week, allows smart-phone users to search for subjects simply by snapping a picture of them. Users can focus their phone’s camera on an object and Google will try to match portions of the picture with the tens of millions of images in its database.

But privacy campaigners have raised fears over the ‘ facial recognition’ potential of the service, which would allow users to track strangers through a photograph. Google, which has confirmed the technology is available but has yet to decide if it will be rolled-out as part of Goggles, has now confirmed that it is blocking aspects of the application until privacy implications have been fully explored. Google spokesman Anthony House said: ‘We do have the relevant facial recognition technology at our disposal. For instance with our Picasa picture service a user can tag a friend in their photo album and it will search for and tag any other pictures of that person.

But we haven’t implemented this on Google Goggles because we want to consider the privacy implications and how this feature might be added responsibly. So if someone uploads a picture of a stranger on Goggles there is no process to identify them and the search will come up with “no matches found. We will have talks with privacy advocates and consumers before we consider any changes – it may be people want such a service, but we don’t have a rigid timescale on when any decisions will be made. Android operating system such as the HTC Hero. The tool works best with stationary objects like landmarks, books, DVDs and artwork. It can also scan business cards and upload the data straight into a user’s address book.

We are hard at work extending our recognition capabilities. He added: ‘Visual recognition technology is in its infancy, so it doesn’t work well yet on food, cars, plants or animals. The controversy comes as Google CEO Eric Schmidt was lambasted by an Internet Privacy watchdog for some off hand remarks he made to the U. He was asked whether people should treat Google like a trusted friend. The Electronic Frontier Foundation described the comments as ‘dangerous and dismissive. An executive at Mozilla Firefox was so incensed by Mr Schmidt’s attitude that he wrote details on his blog how Firefox users could add a Microsoft Bing search box instead of Google. Shared secrets: Paul Burrell and Diana in 1994.

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