When details about Google Glass began to emerge, I warned that the technology was going to make some folks uneasy. I predicted widespread bans by businesses and government agencies (think Homeland Security) over privacy concerns that are bound to come up when Google Glass is widely available. This future-looking article by colleague Jason Perlow is eye-opening but I think we may see problems far sooner than Perlow.
The problem is that anyone wearing Google Glass can take snapshots, video, and audio of whatever the wearer looks at. This means that images can be grabbed virtually anywhere, and that's the problem. In my earlier article I mentioned the likelihood that people were going to be concerned of folks snapping images of other people's kids as an example. I still believe that's going to be a big cause of concern for many.
CNET reported that tech pundit Robert Scoble recently kicked up the privacy conversations again with a simple comment he made on Twitter. Scoble has been using Google Glass for a little while and he's been sharing his thoughts about the fantastic technology. That sharing led to his admission that he wears the Google Glass in public restrooms and no one has objected.
As a parent, the thought of Google Glasses being anywhere near a place where my small children expose themselves in the open like a restroom scares the heck out of me.
Seeing this gave me pause, I must admit. I've known Scoble for years and seeing him with the goofy looking eyewear at the next urinal in a restroom wouldn't worry me as I trust he wouldn't be snapping images of my junk. No, what worries me are all the other Google Glass wearers, both present and future. I don't know many of those folks and frankly I don't want to expose myself to potential clandestine snappage.
Some have suggested that Google Glass wearers should just take them off their eyes when in places like public restrooms. That may be an adequate solution but I'll bet it won't be enough to appease many. Having no Google Glasses in view may be the only way to make everyone happy.
It's not having myself compromised that really concerns me. As a parent, the thought of Google Glasses being anywhere near a place where my small children (when they were young) expose themselves in the open like a restroom scares the heck out of me. I have a feeling most parents would feel the same way once Google Glasses are widely available and people understand what they can do. They are going to want to see Google Glasses nowhere near places such as public restrooms.
This is just scratching the surface as far as privacy concerns, as it is early in the life of Google Glass. As awareness increases more and more, people are going to get concerned about potential Google Glass usage in a lot of familiar places. I think parents will cringe, get downright defensive, when they start seeing Google Glasses in schools and public swimming pools, to name a couple of common venues. Parents love to take photos of Junior splashing in the pool but they are going to scream bloody murder when someone else "looks" toward their kids if wearing the glasses from Google.
Parents are already on the lookout of strangers apparently taking photos of children in parks and similar places. There are plenty of incidents reported of parents getting police officers involved because they think someone they don't know is taking photos of kids. Imagine how much worse that will get with several Google Glass wearers in the park. Just seeing someone looking at kids will set off the parent alarm.
While I believe that lots of adult venues are going to ban the glasses outright, the issue of kids being captured with them is going to be a driver of the public reaction to this technology. It's probably going to cause ordinances passed in many places prohibiting having Google Glasses anywhere in sight. Businesses will start bans first, and I expect amusement parks and Chuck E. Cheese will be some of the first as well.
It won't matter if Google makes it obvious when images are being captured as that can likely be bypassed by savvy owners. That will only let concerned subjects know after the fact of usage. No, an outright ban of having them anywhere in the open at certain places is going to happen, in this writer's opinion.