Google Glass is 'the end of privacy': Australian politician

Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi has claimed that Google Glass will lead to the end of privacy as we know it.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Opposition federal senator from South Australia Cory Bernardi has claimed that Google's new smartphone-like glasses called Google Glass will lead to the end of privacy, with everything filmed and trackable.

Image: Google

The outspoken senator, who last year resigned from being Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's personal parliamentary secretary over comments that he made comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality, said in his "Common Sense" blog that he has serious concerns about the surveillance capability of the experimental Google Glass (GG) technology.

"You see, GG comes with the ability to record video and audio of everything that happens throughout your day. No longer is there a need to grab an iPhone and click to capture the moment. GG can do it all day, every day, automatically," he said.

"That might be fine if you are the user, but what if you are an unwitting victim of such recording? A single GG wearer in your favourite restaurant could capture your image and your conversation without you ever knowing. The footage would be stored on the Google servers, your voice could be translated into text, and with the use of facial recognition, could be actually matched to your Google profile. You might even find it on a social media site somewhere for millions of others to see."

Bernardi said it "could mean the end of privacy as we know it", and while admitting this was an "extreme scenario", he said that everyone has things they want to keep from the public record.

"Whether it be a conversation with our spouse, a personal failing, medical records, or a youthful indiscretion, the advancement and availability of cutting edge surveillance technology like GG could radically change all of that," he said. "It's one reason we should question whether some of the great advancements in technology are designed to serve us or serve the interests of others."

Google Australia declined to comment on Bernardi's blog post.

The Google Glass technology is still in its early days, and Google only made the technology available to developers last year, and a limited pool of competition winners in the next few months. A wider launch is not expected until 2014, and it is unclear what privacy features Google may include to allay public concern.

Bernardi's comments come as a parliamentary committee made up of Coalition and Labor politicians is considering a vast number of potential amendments to telecommunications security legislation that could potentially see telecommunications customer data stored for use by law enforcement for up to two years.

While some Coalition members have expressed reservations about the potential privacy implications of giving police access to more data about the public's internet use, including Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis, others, such as Phillip Ruddock, have expressed support for the expanded police powers. Bernardi has not made his views on this known.

While Bernardi's party is in a position to win the next federal election in September, Abbott has previously indicated that he would not reshuffle his cabinet, meaning that Bernardi would not be in any ministerial position for at least the beginning of an Abbott government.

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