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Google making changes to controversial program that allegedly targeted Atlanta's black homeless population for facial scans

This week, a Google spokesperson said the investigation found the program did violate the company's policies.

ATLANTA — Tech giant Google confirms it is making changes to the way it gathers facial recognition data, after complaints arose alleging the company targeted Atlanta's homeless population.

A report in the New York Daily News detailed how a third-party contractor traded $5 gift cards for a face scan.

Research shows facial recognition software has difficulty recognizing darker skin tones. The report said employees targeted black homeless people in order to gather data on darker skin, in the process, reportedly violating some of Google's policies. 

After that report, the City of Atlanta sent a letter to the tech company demanding an explanation. The company stopped the research and started an investigation. 

RELATED: Atlanta demands Google explain 'profoundly alarming' report accusing company of targeting homeless for facial scans

This week, a Google spokesperson said the investigation found the contractor did violate the company's policies and added that Google plans to change the way it does research by keeping it on their campuses. 

Google said it wants better control over the research and interaction with anyone who participates. 

RELATED: Amazon's facial recognition tool misidentified 28 members of Congress in ACLU test

Below is the full statement from Google: 

“Building greater inclusivity in our products, including the security features on Made by Google devices, is important and necessary. But we were concerned with what was reported in October. So we immediately suspended the program, and started a full investigation. We found that the conduct was in violation of our training and scripts, and our policies on voluntary studies. Going forward, the work will be done on Google sites only, to ensure we have better control over the research and the interactions with participants.”

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