The future of privacy
Posted on March 27th, 2013
Google Glass is an interesting project. We have only begun to scratch the surface of what this technology can do. Most people haven't even heard of it yet (it's not even close to being an actual released product), and already people are lining up to fight against it. What has them concerned is the potential privacy invasion that will come with devices like this.
For those that don't know, Google Glass is a computing device you wear like a pair of glasses. It is connected to the cloud like your phone and can overlay information into your field of view. It can also respond to voice commands like Siri. So far so good. But the feature they show off the most is what has the privacy guys concerned. It has a camera that is capable of recording everything you see.
Some companies are already coming out with bans against the devices. Seattle's 5 point cafe was one of the first. It's not clear if these early non-adopters are really defenders if the public good or just out for some cheap publicity. West Virginia has become the first state to propose a law against Google Glass, though its reasons have more to do with public safety than privacy - the ban is on driving while wearing them. I'm sure similar legislation will follow in other states.
One London based group called Stop The Cyborgs is already actively working to stop Google Glass and similar devices. I can't help but feel a sense of irony that this group is based in London which is one of the CCTV capitals of the world. So just how is different from the thousands of CCTV cameras that are already covering most public areas, intersections, and shopping centers? The argument is that these devices could become as prevalent as smartphones. That would be like millions of CCTV cameras all at eye level, everywhere you go. Also the devices have GPS and the ultimate goal is to do on the fly location and face recognition. So it is conceivable that everyone the wearer looks at could be identified, recorded and tracked. I can see what all the fuss is about.
Two things are certain, the legal and social debate over these devices is just beginning, and there is no stopping this and similar technology from arriving. The law will have a hard time keeping up with this technology however, it already lags behind cellphone cameras as we regularly see in the news. It's hard to imagine what the world will look like in a few short years.