It's the viral sensation that swept your social media feeds this past weekend. The Google Arts & Culture app, which has been around for a while, added a new feature that matches your selfie to classic works of art. Similar to this one that I made:


Brodie vs Flanders
Townsquare Media/By Anonymous (Flanders) ( Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Now that was made on my own, I didn't get the fancy app. I had to track down classic art of a bald bearded guy, and submit a request form to make sure we could legally post that without getting hit with a lawsuit by the estate of a long dead 16th century Belgian... let's say impressionist as that's the only real style of 16th century art I can name.

Why did I have to make my own? Why didn't I just download the app, take a selfie, grab a screen shot and post THAT? Because I can't. Not because I don't have a smart phone, I've got the Galaxy S8. And not because I don't have the app. I do. But it's not available in Illinois. It's not available in Texas either, but that's 600 miles away so who cares.

Originally this was thought just to be a regional rollout thing, like they were testing it in fairly large markets. I had seen some celebrities I follow on social media try it out so, "Yeah, Los Angeles, New York, etc. that makes sense." Then I saw my sister try it out, and I thought, "OK, Wichita's still pretty big, that makes sense." THEN I saw some old college friends try it out in Marquette, MI, a town half the size of Quincy. Now I'm confused.

Turns out Illinois (and Texas) have the strictest laws regarding biometrics and facial recognition. It goes back to the 2008 Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. The act puts strict regulations on how a person's biometric data, including facial recognition, can be collected, stored and used. It also requires written disclosure of the use of biometric data, how long it will be used, and the user needs to grant written permission.

I even tried driving into Missouri to see if THAT would help. But no. I guess I didn't go far enough across the border, because I wasn't able to get it to work. So I texted my sister and said "Hey sister! Love you! Will you help me out with this thing?" She said "Hey brother! Love you, too! OK." So here are the actual results:


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