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03/03/2013 by

Google GLASS Privacy Concerns

Many were excited when Google announced the Glass project. Not surprising, it’s an amazing gadget that, among other features, allows user to record and share what he or she sees.

Google Glass And Privacy Concerns - Big Brother is watching you

And that’s the awkward part – how can you tell if someone who you’re talking is or isn’t recording you? The same goes for random strangers on the street, in a bar, and so on. Will we be under constant surveillance by anonymous by-passers?

Currently areas monitored with CCTV are (or should be) marked and I think most of the people really don’t bother about it. All the public places, buses, airports, etc. being filmed – it’s for our “safety”. A video from CCTV can help identify a robber, brawlers like in the case of riots in UK in 2011, no doubts about that.

But now fast forward a year or two into the future, Google Glass and other similar gadgets are used. What can happen is that anywhere you go in public – store, public transportation, a dinner with your friend, you’re liable to be recorded: audio and video. Next?

The video all streams into Google’s servers. With a facial recognition program and combination of the identity database of Google (Google Plus where people register with real names). Basically Google will be able to (or at least attempt to) identify every person appearing in every video. Last but not least, there are many speech-to text programs, so anything recorded can be converted to text, analyzed (e.g. sentiment) and tagged to an individual.

Another example, from a user’s perspective. You’re standing on a street or in a new office, looking around with Google GLASS on a by-stander. Within few second you check all available information about that person. And the same vice versa. How do you like this image? If you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about, this should help – the fun starts at 1:10

Watch Dogs

YouTube Preview Image

Basically everything that you EVER said or did and was recorded by Google Glass can be stored and accessed later, whenever needed.

And not only Google will be able to see what one sees with GLASS, but there might be also eye tracking involved, creating heat maps of what one see, what looks more and what looks less interesting.

Last but not least, what about advertising? Alerts popping up to tell where’s a nearest pizza branch with a special offer available, targeting based on location, social behavior and habits that are already stored in the cloud.

So this promo video of Google GLASS, happy people smiling and having a lot of fun with them, should not be taken that seriously. Technology can bring a lot, but also take away much more.


What About You?
How do you feel about Google GLASS privacy and the idea being recorded by random strangers? And that someday someone would be able to browse through your life? I’d love to read your ideas in the comments below.

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Comments (4)

  • Laurens Bianchi 04/03/2013, 08:46

    Doesn’t the same question counts for mobile phones, dashboard cams in cars and digital camera’s?

    • Martin Michalík 04/03/2013, 10:28

      Well yes and no. For mobile phones and digital cameras one can see that a photo/video is being captured (unless someone tries to hide the device and record). Dash cams and the footage made, in my opinion, are for different purpose – to show what happened in front of a vehicle and as a proof.

      However In case of Google GLASS you can never know if a person you’re talking to is recording the whole conversation and who can access it later. Or as mentioned in the article, anyone with Google Glass in every public space. I don’t want to sound too paranoid, but…

  • Igor Beuker 05/03/2013, 02:25

    Your discussion reminds me of a great movie from 1998: Enemy of the State. Starring Gene Hackman and Will Smith. IMDB

    And don’t we see that more often? 10 years ago science fiction, now reality?

    Just wish Glass had MRI and night vision features, screw privacy :-)

    No Martin has a very good point. Soon every conversation will be recorded and uploaded to the social web.

    Maybe you should watch the Wire, rated 9,4 on IMDB:

    Bit too slow for me. I love Suits, not only for its cool “ïn-programme” Twitter calls-to-action…
    8,9 on IMDB:

  • Laurens Bianchi 05/03/2013, 09:46

    Same thing for Replay’s “social jeans’ by the way:

    I guess that people will eventually recognzie the glasses, you must admit these aren’t really a fashion item :-)