Google Glass privacy concerns come to the head

Google Glass privacy concerns come to the head

Summary: Google Glass is amazing technology that will be ground-breaking when it hits the big time. Success will come with responsibility, and that's the concern.

TOPICS: Mobility, Google

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.

See also: Google Glass: Expect widespread bans over privacy concerns

Scoble GG tweet

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.

See related:

Topics: Mobility, Google

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      • Whatever

        Sure you will.. you WILL deal with it. Tell you what tell me where you live, I will walk up to you, take your picture let you know BEFORE I start.. and there isn't a DAMN thing you can do about it, punk!

        Like you have the right.... you have NO right and why would we WANT to take your mug shut in the first place loser?!?! Yeah the other poster said it.. SHUT --- F--- UP!

        It's not against the law OR your rights to take a picture. You don't like it, stay in your house jackass.
  • ..of that

    EXACTLY, we don't care to take their pictures in the FIRST place, people are so self centered... like it's going happen.

    Celebrities have no rights not even intellectual property for there pictures... taking a picture isn't a problem ABUSING them and using them to extort money is completely another matter.
  • Google glass

    I would not let anyone in my home or on my property wear them. Furthermore I would shun those that do.
    • OK

      You are an idiot, stay in your house, don't go outside.. you have no friends anyway so it's a moot point about having guests over..

      You will lose friends QUICKLY if you start dictating what THEY do with THEIR money and preferences for technology. Nobody cares about you, your stupid house or your crazy ludicrous overprotective privacy perceptions.

      It's people like you that don't have friends to begin with, so it's a self fulfilling prophecy.

      You speak big words on a forum, but in REAL life you wouldn't have a clue if you saw the glasses in the FIRST place... they look normal..

      Here is the ridiculous part, ALL the things these google glasses can do, I can do RIGHT now with my mobile phone. If I want to take pictures of random people at a bar, or start taking video at a Mall, guess what I WILL!!!! You cannot stop me, so stop making a mountain out of an insignificant ant farm, dork.

      It's not a problem until it BECOMES a problem, I don't post video on youtube and I certainly don't want idiots like you in my pictures of Disney World, scrub, so you will get deleted.

      However if I am on a cruise and I want to take pictures of the scenery or landscape of Alaska from the port side of a carnival cruise, you can bet your sweet ass I WILL be wearing google glass to do it!

      So stick that in your ever loving privacy party, and suck it!
      • .....

        "You are an idiot, stay in your house, don't go outside."

        Eh, not really a good attitude.

        "You will lose friends QUICKLY if you start dictating what THEY do with THEIR money and preferences for technology. "

        I can't remember the last time somebody lost a friend because they asked somebody to turn off a camera when entering their house. Feel free to enlighten me.

        "Nobody cares about you, your stupid house or your crazy ludicrous overprotective privacy perceptions."

        Not to worry, I'll just break into your house and take photos of your credit cards, front and back. It'll be okay because, after all, you don't have any rules about your house, right?

        I can just call you stupid names like "overprotective," and that'll fix everything, right?

        (shakes head)

        "However if I am on a cruise and I want to take pictures of the scenery or landscape of Alaska from the port side of a carnival cruise, you can bet your sweet ass I WILL be wearing google glass to do it!"

        He's not talking about a cruise, though - he's talking about his house. Last I checked, the law *does* say that people can have a reasonable right to privacy in their own homes. Cruises may be a different matter.

        In fact, I'd say that Scoble may be risking a court case. Dunno what the privacy laws say about public restrooms :/.
        • Missing the forest for the trees

          So someone it worried about a Glass-wearer taking pictures of credit cards?

          ...and yet they willingly hand over that same credit card to a complete stranger making $2.63/hour (plus tips) when they go out to eat.
  • The hysteria is hysterical (NT)

    • Well said

      Now anyone that wants a GG is either a pedo or trying to take photos of your wife to sell to the internet.
      FFS, I have equipment that will record 720 video, cost £3 and looks like a car remote. I don't record everything and everyone and even if I was, no one would know. If you're wanting clandestine photos, I doubt you'll strap something to your face to advertise it!
      Little Old Man
      • You speak the truth.

        Spy cams have been out for a while. Even if law makers were to outlaw them, which I do not see them doing, that would just ban the inconspicuous cameras, not the ouvert in your face ones.
  • It's a Google thing

    All that video could just as equally be used against the person wearing the thing. When youre filming theres bound to be all manner of illegal things happening on the videos. If cops are using facebook postings to nab criminals ... just wait.

    Next technology around the corner is going to be the automated fine dispenser from Demolition Man. Maybe theyll just have those fines get auto emailed to the gmail adress you have linked to the device as soon as your device determines youve done something illegal.

    I always thought the funniest part about these types of things is you dont have to be forced to wear them by the authorities. People are just dumb enough to purchase them on their own! :)
    • actually...

      The police already do use youtube videos as evidence.

      Something else we are kind of forgetting... google owns youtube... a video hosting site that earns it huge money... and people are still trying to figure out why they would make a video camera that straps to your head and automatically connects to your youtube account... and we don't see a connection here?
      • That was my point

        They do already use social media to convict. And people are dumb enough to put the stuff out there for them day in and day out.
  • Just the start

    Google Glass is just the start. Right now they are conspicuous and (arguably) somewhat clunky. Ten years from now, you won't be able to tell that someone is wearing a camera. An outright ban will be difficult or impossible to enforce. We'll need to come up with more creative solutions. We'll have to confront this in polite society eventually, might as well start the discussion now.
    • To their justice that tech has been available for years

      You could have had spy cams in any clothing article and easily not be noticed. The only thing google has done here is made them more popular and linked them with a compiling system (the internet).

      Again the biggest invasion of privacy is how the tech can/will be used. This form is automatically sorting infor and compiling it with others in an easy to use way. Normal cameras take work to string things together which is a deterrent enough for it not to be a danger to the masses. Google glass is different only in this regard.
    • Earth

      In one of the better bits of SF prognostication, David Brin predicted augmented reality and universal sousveillance in his novel, Earth, 23 years ago. It's still a book worth reading.
  • Cameras

    Many people consider cameras on street corners to be an invasion of privacy, but don't have a concern wearing google glass.
  • Just wait until these heads up displays are

    widely available in glasses that appear to be conventional
    Johnny Vegas
    • I agree

      I agree, we will not notice if someone wearing normal glasses is using the 'Glass'.

      Like it or not, it will change the way we understand the right to record or not: all may be recorded. The other thing is the right to make it public, this we can put laws, I think that we already HAVE laws, don't need to add more of them.
  • Ruination of arguements.

    What would Google Glass do to the "he said, she said" thing?

    (Her: "I remember that six months ago you said 'X,' jerk face."
    Him: "Huh? What?")

    And ofice meetings? All participants should be required to wear Google Glass.
    • Meetings

      haha ... dont let me catch your head nodding off during the meeting with that thing on! or staring at passing eye candy.