Less than two weeks ahead of the Pixel 4 flagship smartphone’s debut, Google is temporarily pulling 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 by pretending they would merely be testing a new app.
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, which could keep it from being biased against people of color — a legitimate concern for facial recognition tech.
Google now tells The New York Times and The Verge that it has immediately suspended the program, and opened an investigation, after reading the Daily News’ story. It wouldn’t confirm individual allegations, 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 has reportedly called the alleged details “very disturbing.” Google tells The Verge that it made sure to provide directions to its researchers to be transparent with people they approached for a facial scan, so it sounds like Google will be able to dodge some of the blame if the allegations about its contractor are true.
After a four-year investigation, Google has agreed to pay almost €1 billion ($1.10 billion) to French authorities because it did not fully declare its tax activities in the country, as reported by Reuters. The payment covers a €500 million fine and additional taxes of €465 million.
Google’s tax status in the European Union has always been contentious. It pays very little tax in most European countries despite doing business on the continent, because a loophole allows it to avoid taxes by essentially running a shell company in Ireland. This well-known loophole is called the Double Irish arrangement and has been described as the largest tax avoidance tool in history.
Google’s cloud gaming platform, Stadia, is just months away from its release, and the company continues to announce new games. Stadia is arriving in November, priced at $9.99 per month for access to the premium tier of service. While you’ll be able to use Google’s powerful cloud servers for that subscription, you will need to purchase the majority of games separately.
Google hasn’t confirmed exact game pricing and availability just yet, but the big launch titles are Destiny 2, today’s brand-new addition Cyberpunk 2077, and Baldur’s Gate III. Destiny 2 takes advantage of cross-save support that Google is bringing to Stadia, allowing players to share their progression between Xbox, PC, and Stadia.
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Bandai Namco: Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2
Bethesda: Doom Eternal, Doom 2016, Rage 2, The Elder Scrolls Online, Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Bungie: Destiny 2
CD Projekt Red: Cyberpunk 2077
Coatsink: Get Packed (Stadia exclusive)
Deep Silver: Metro Exodus
DotEmu: Windjammers 2
Electronic Arts: TBD
Giants Software: Farming Simulator 19
Gwen Frey: Kine
Larian Studios: Baldur’s Gate 3
nWay Games: Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
Robot Entertainment: Orcs Must Die 3!
Rockstar Games: TBD
Sega: Football Manager
SNK: Samurai Shodown
Square Enix: Final Fantasy XV, Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Superhot Team: Superhot Mind Control Delete
2K Games: NBA 2K, Borderlands 3
Tequila Works: Gylt (Stadia exclusive)
Warner Bros.: Mortal Kombat 11
THQ: Darksiders Genesis, Destroy All Humans
Ubisoft: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Just Dance, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Trials Rising, The Crew 2