Google is reportedly discussing how it can get away with introducing facial recognition technology in the light of increasing criticism over its privacy policies.
Chief executive Eric Schmidt told the Financial Times that facial recognition had been the subject of intense discussion.
"Anything we did in that area would be highly, highly planned, discussed and reviewed. When you go through these things, you review your management procedures," he said, adding, "It is important that we continue to innovate."
There's no doubt that the company has efficient facial recognition technology already. Its Picasa photo sharing service allows users to search their own photo albums to find matches for labeled photos.
But it's steered clear of using it elsewhere: the feature was a notable omission from its Google Goggles product. Launched last year, this matches and identifies other types of image, such as buildings and landmarks.
Privacy watchdogs suggest that allowing the technology to be used for images on the internet would enable stalking and identity theft.
It's a surprising time for Schmidt to be discussing such a sensitive topic. Google is currently under the spotlight around the world after admitting that its Street View cars have for years been hoovering up information on Wifi users' activities.