Less than two weeks ahead of the Pixel 4 flagship smartphone's debut, Google has reportedly pulled the plug on a controversial "field research" program that offered subjects in US cities a $ 5 gift certificate in exchange for a scan of their face – after a New York Daily News report that one Google contracting agency was actively targeting homeless people in Atlanta and tricking unwitting college students into participating.
Originally, the company told us, the idea was to make sure the Pixel 4's new Face Unlock feature would recognize a diverse array of faces that could keep it from being biased against people of color ̵
According to The New York Times Google claims it immediately suspended the program and opened an investigation after reading the Daily News' story. It wouldn't discuss details with the Times but did say it's true it hired contractors from Randstad for the research, the same contractor named in the Daily News' expose, and Google reportedly called the alleged details “very disturbing.”
Notably, Google is coming forward after Atlanta city attorney Nina Hickson sent a very strongly-worded email to the company about her homeless being targeted: “The possibility that members of our most vulnerable populations are being exploited to advance your commercial interest is profoundly alarming for numerous reasons, ”she wrote, the Times reports.
Google did not respond to a request for comment on our earlier story, and it
You can read the Daily News' whole expose right here.