Google's Arts & Culture face matching doesn't work in Illinois or Texas

By now, chances are you've heard about a new feature in Google's Arts & Culture app that scans your face and matches it with a famous painting. It's blown up over the past couple of days, but users in Illinois and Texas have reported that they're unable to use it.

Google confirmed to CNN that the face matching feature doesn't work in these two states, and while it declined to comment about why this is, it would appear that it has to do with privacy laws that exist there.

Back in 2008, a law was passed in Illinois that made it so companies had to let users know when biometric data was being recorded and what it would be used for. A year later in 2009, a similar law was passed in Texas. The Arts & Culture app does tell users that it scans their face and consent must first be given before the feature will work.

Some people are of the mindset that Google is in violation of these laws, but others beg to differ. Speaking to CNN, Director of Georgetown Law Center on Privacy & Technology, Alvaro Bedoya, said:

This app isn't being rolled out in these states because of privacy law. It isn't being rolled out in these states because powerful companies want those privacy laws to go away. They're trying to prove a point by not letting consumers in those states use the app.

It's unclear if Google will remove the restrictions in place for users in Illinois and Texas, but if you live in either of these areas and really, really want to try the face matching feature for yourself, you can download a VPN to get around them.

Joe Maring

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.