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Google Glass and Surveillance Culture 318

Posted by timothy
from the looking-sharp dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tech journalist Milo Yiannopoulos asks the question lurking in everyone's mind about Google Glass. 'It's an audacious product for a company no one trusts to behave responsibly with our data: a pair of glasses that can monitor and record the world around you,' he writes. 'But if Glass becomes as ubiquitous as the iPhone, are we truly to believe that Google will not attempt to abuse that remarkable power?' With each new eyebrow-raising court judgment and federal fine levied against Google, he adds, 'it becomes ever more clear that this is a company hell-bent on innovating first and asking questions later, if ever. And its vision, shared with other California technology companies, is of corporate America redefining societal privacy norms in the service of advertising companies and their clients.' He feels that Google will eventually end up in some sort of court battle over Google Glass and privacy. Do you agree? Does Google Glass deserve extra scrutiny before it hits the market?"
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Google Glass and Surveillance Culture

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  • No (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220)

    What are they going to do? Limit sales to law enforcement agencies only? Surveillance is only an issue when it's one way, and whatever is recorded can be used against you by the authorities, public and private.

  • Not a problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremi (14640) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:14PM (#43338295) Homepage

    Does Google Glass deserve extra scrutiny before it hits the market?"

    No, it deserves scrutiny after it hits the market. Passing judgement before the product is even finalized is just an exercise in fearmongering (how can you judge something when you don't yet know what it does?) and smacks of prior restraint [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ArcadeMan (2766669)

      But what if it's okay at launch but a software upgrade makes it not okay once it's being used by 20% of the population?

      There's fearmongering and there's being blind to potential problems.

      • by Psyborgue (699890)
        The device does not record constantly and doesn't even have a dedicated internet connection. How could it possibly be used as an always on surveillance device as suggested in TFA. It's FUD.
      • by Lithdren (605362)

        Then I hope you dont own a phone, a tablet, a PC, or any other eletronic device that could later be updated to do something terrible!

        Sorta like arguing we shouldn't pass a law that says it's ok for gay people to get married "because it might later get extended to cover beastialty and people getting married to toads!". It's an absurd argument, you cant actually find something faulty so instead you invent something that 'could' happen and then attack it with that. Better outlaw the car, someone could buy on

    • It is safe to say there will be downsides to this technology though. Of course, such an observation is obvious: every single thing humans have ever invented have pros and cons. Nuclear weapons, the most destructive power we've got, they prevented wars.

      Possible exception: vaccines. I can't see much downsides to them. Idiots being paranoid about their effects aren't worth mentioning, they'd find something to illogically worry about anyway.
      • by the_B0fh (208483)

        There's a hypothesis that it caused the spread of AIDS because of the infected needles used during the vaccination campaigns in Africa during the middle half of the last century.

        • by tnk1 (899206)

          Quite possibly true, but not a downside of vaccination, per se, but rather of it's implementation.

          The most obvious downside is the eventual removal of certain natural resistances from a population. We don't have to deal with Smallpox any more, but if it got out again, we'd be in big trouble because resistance has been pretty much bred out back down to minimal levels. If some aliens gave us blankets with smallpox on them, we'd go the way of the American Indian in fairly short order.

          • There are lots of potential downsides to vaccinations. Allergic reactions, failure to immunize, potential for overstimulation of the immune system (more theoretical than real at this point) and others. Vaccination committees spend years discussing the pros and cons of suggesting a particular vaccine be implemented.

            The hype about autism and mercury are just the typical Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt response to complicated things that some people don't want to deal with.

            But it's very complicated and more than

    • Agree, but perhaps they should think things through rather better than their previous attempts, instead of sticking to the "let's push as far as we can, and then see where we get slapped down" approach.

      OK, number plates, and individual houses, were blurred out in Google Street View *after* people complained, personal information (illegally) collected via Wifi snooping was (allegedly) destroyed *after* people complained, and hefty fines levied. Same kind of furore with Google+, Picasa 'identifying' people's

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:14PM (#43338299)

    They have access to soo much data for such a long period of time now.
    There was the Street View wifi-network thing. But for the rest: very little abuse of power. I'ld say that they are doing a good job. Certainly better than the disasters we've seen from Apple (GPS data collection), Sony PSN (leaked almost everything), Facebook ("It's not a leak, we sold your information").

  • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:15PM (#43338311) Homepage

    Don't worry too much about the long-term implications, they'll get bored and drop it in a few years.

  • by John Napkintosh (140126) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:15PM (#43338315) Homepage

    I can opt out of wearing the goggles, so I don't have to be concerned with google pushing ads into my eyeballs. I can't opt out of other people capturing me with their goggles, but this is hardly different than people collecting video in public spaces with cameraphones or more traditional video capture devices. Google themselves could pay people to wander around public spaces and collect video, surreptitiously or otherwise.

    I don't really get the controversy.

    • by Jiro (131519) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:24PM (#43338453)

      New technology often makes things which were possible but impractical, practical.

      People could wander around with traditional video capture devices, but it would be awkward for them to do so and most real-world attempts to do this would be easy to notice, even if it's theoretically possible that someone could have a little hole in their shirt pocket just for the cellphone camera to peek out of. Google could pay people to collect video, but it would be expensive on a large scale.

      • Will Google also be able to broadcast in Virtual Reality so that people get to see what they want them to see? Perhaps, if so Google can give them a discount if they don't refuse to have the glasses super-glued to their customer's heads.

    • I can't opt out of other people capturing me with their goggles, but this is hardly different than people collecting video in public spaces

      I totally agree with this point; to me it seems absurd to complain about being recorded in spaces with CCTV's and people everywhere with camera phones already.

      The issue I see more is around, you go visit friends or enter other restricted spaces that are not really public, but you are still recording. I feel like in my house I do have an expectation of privacy, should I

      • Once upon a time, you were able to ask guests to observe certain behavior while in your home. Please take off your shoes, leave your handgun in the car, don't bring recreational drugs into my home... I really don't see what the difference is in asking a guest to not record or even to leave their Google Glasses at home or in the car.
      • Cameraphones don't have that today

        Not quite true. [stackexchange.com]

        • I had forgotten most cameraphones have a shutter sound already (I've disabled mine). But there still is not shutter sound for video on any devices I know of, nor an indicator light...

    • I can opt out of wearing the goggles, so I don't have to be concerned with google pushing ads into my eyeballs. I can't opt out of other people capturing me with their goggles, but this is hardly different than people collecting video in public spaces with cameraphones or more traditional video capture devices. Google themselves could pay people to wander around public spaces and collect video, surreptitiously or otherwise.

      I don't really get the controversy.

      I wouldn't say it is exactly the same as camera phones, it is usually quite noticeable if someone is walking around using it as a camcorder. And they don't all feed into the same centralized Google search engine with facial recognition capability.

      It is possible to use various "spy" cameras and techniques, but I would also frown upon people doing this too. But again, they don't all feed into the same massive data-aggregation/tracking engine. And this will never be comparable in volume of use to having a lo

    • by GodInHell (258915)
      >cough or just pay the building to hang a camera on a wall. It would just blend in with the "security" cameras and you would never know. Also, google goggles is a product that google put out more than a year ago. TFA is written by an idiot.
    • I can't opt out of other people capturing me with their goggles, but this is hardly different than people collecting video in public spaces with cameraphones or more traditional video capture devices.

      It is significantly different because most CCTVs and cameraphones aren't feeding everything into a single permanent central database running facial recogniton on every face and recording the time and GPS coordinates. Don't get me wrong, there is a risk of that happening too with CCTVs and the rest, but the issue here is that google glass is already set up to feed everything to Google for a variety of analyses. If even just 1% of the population starts using google glass that may well be sufficient coverage

  • The obvious answer is to not share/broadcast your Glass video to everybody, including Google.

    I think even Google would struggle to cope with forty million concurrent video uploads in addition to current traffic (of.. around 5000). The bandwidth would be... substantial.

    • Comparable, perhaps, to forty million simultaneous Youtube watchers? Given that they can handle Youtube, I expect they could probably handle Glass.
      • by Cederic (9623)

        Read vs Write, let alone the data overload trying to sift, catalogue, keyword and filter the uploads.

        • You mean like YouTube?

          • by Cederic (9623)

            As I said, Youtube is currently in the low 'thousands' of concurrent uploads. Not quite the multiple millions they'd get from Google Glass.

            • Maybe it is part of their plans. After all, they started to install optical fiber in the USA with plans to cover that country coast-to-coast, if I am not mistaken.

              • by GodInHell (258915)
                Google wants us to have ubiquitous fast data transfers!? THE FIENDS! clearly they are interested in capturing images of me in my underwear, all of this "building a better future" is a conspiracy toward that end.
      • From a bandwidth prospective, this would simply level out their traffic. The bandwidth is essentially free since their links are full-duplex.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      I think the main problem with new technologies like tracking in smartphones (or even the Web in its current form) is that there is practically no way to opt out, because you don't even know who is collecting what information about you in response to any little action you take.

      Let's say I want location-aware reminders on my google glass ("you said you wanted Monkey's Uncle Ale, well this store you're walking by has it for $X") OK. Does that mean all reminders I create are mined for shopping-related keywo

  • What is stopping us from creating a line of clothing and accessories adorned with infrared LEDs? I remember reading an article about a hat a guy made that made his head look like a giant white orb to a video camera. It may certainly draw attention to you to the observer on the screen, but I still think it is a great way to combat the surveillance culture. Now if Google starts putting IR filters on the cameras....
    • by Kelbear (870538)

      It would be pretty cool to have an IR camera built into Google glass. Being able to see in the dark is pretty nifty. When I watch my son sleep in the crib on my tablet(using the infrared camera mounted in the room) I can see him so clearly, but when I go in there to give him his pacifier, and tuck him back in, I'm blind as a bat. Might be easier to just walk in there holding my tablet to see.

  • Can't we just call it GGlass for short or something equally unimposing? Somehow the very repetitive nature of "Google Glass" this and "Google Glass" seems that quite disturbing. Gmail, Android, Chrome - people don't refer to these things with the longer moniker anymore. The product is already so ubiquitous it's time to shorten our references to it.
  • Built into my eyeglasses, encrypted link to a server *I* own which anonymizes my queries, nobody gets my data off it without a subpoena.

    Google and the government can both go jump off a cliff.

    • Google and the government can both go jump off a cliff.

      When you consider the number of people who work at both places, that would make the Grand Canyon a sad place to visit.

  • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@NosPaM.cornell.edu> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:29PM (#43338523) Homepage

    Um, that's a BIT of scaremongering... Did this idiot somehow confuse Google with Facebook? Yes, Google has had some minor screwups (and some, such as the Street View mess, could barely be considered a screwup but more of FUD from clueless users who don't understand that ANYONE can see the MAC address of a wifi AP...), but nothing as major and spectacular as Facebook's routine privacy screwups.

    And yes, overall - I trust Google, as do MANY other people.

    • he adds, 'it becomes ever more clear that this is a company hell-bent on innovating first and asking questions later, if ever..

      Um, when did it become ANY company's responsibility to do otherwise? And would we trust that it was asking the right questions if it was the only doing the questioning?

  • Will Google Glass come with a drone installed option. Now that we must arm ourselves in every social situation, I want to be sure I am prepared to close the "glasses gap".

  • With each new eyebrow-raising court judgment and federal fine levied against Google, he adds,

    Yes Google has been the single worst offender in so many cases dealing with privacy, right? So many, there's no use in giving an actual might as well apply it in the most unclear, inaccurate way.... it has to be like a fuckton of judgements. A metric fuckton. Two metric fucktons. Shame on Google.
  • It's an audacious product for a company no one trusts to behave responsibly with our data

    Hyperbole much? Given the amount of data I already trust google with I think it's safe to say I trust google with this.

  • I don't know whether Google will abuse it... use it, certainly, but calling it "abuse" might be a stretch.

    What I do know is that others will try very hard to abuse it.

    You know who I'm talking about...

  • 'It's an audacious product for a company and no one trusts any company to behave responsibly with our data."

    I seriously don't understand the Google hate in the summary. Which company would the OP feel warm and fuzzy about?

    • by QilessQi (2044624)

      ...by which I mean the hate from Milo Yiannopoulos, of course; not the person posting the article.

    • Publicly traded corporations which are the worst of all. Shareholders DEMAND evil and while management can resist for a while, they are only human and will not be able to hold their positions against the nature of the beast. Like a Vampire, they may not want to suck the life out of people but the thirst will win out. As soon as they IPO'd google was inherently evil. The thirst is there and it will take hold eventually.

      You might feel fine inviting them into your home, but I won't tempt fate.

  • by bryan1945 (301828) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:42PM (#43338735) Journal

    A good sci-fi book from around 1990. Half the population wore goggles to record perceived violations caused by others (normally older folks recording younger folks). It was a minor point in the book, but it showed a nifty cat-and-mouse game between the observers and those trying to get away with things like littering, graffiti, etc.

  • by tigeba (208671) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:42PM (#43338743)

    I was at GDC last week and while I was in the ( eternally disgusting ) bathroom washing my hands a Googler wearing Google Glass walked in to use the urinal. The urge to say 'Ok glass, take a picture' was hard to resist.

  • by six025 (714064) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:48PM (#43338823)

    The problem with this technology - if indeed it does feature "always on" data capture - is that it takes just one person in a crowd to ruin it for everyone else.

    You are at an event with a large crowd. Some of the behaviour in this crowd may be illegal (concert goers smoking marijuana for example) or at least frowned up by the authorities (dissidents gathering to protest). There is an unwritten rule amongst the participants that no one will film or take photos due to the nature of this group behaviour.

    At this point, it takes just one person wearing Google Glass to break the unwritten rule. Most of the participants will be oblivious to the presence of the glasses. Yes this could happen with a handheld camera or similar, but the camera is outwardly very obvious. Goggle Glass is designed to blend in with the wearer and the surroundings.

    Hyperbole? Perhaps. Do you want to find out? I certainly don't.

    Peace,
    Andy.

  • It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:53PM (#43338891) Homepage

    Provide a few key apps, and wearing Google Goggles will be made illegal.

    • CopWatch Whenever a uniformed police officer or a police car appears, log badge number, faces, location, time, and date. Upload to tracking web site for map overlay. Process face image for face recognition. Match face against other faces seen on any device subscribing to the service. If matching person is in a vehicle, upload license plate info. Add vehicle to tracking list.
    • BribeWatch Like CopWatch, but for elected officials. Preload system with pictures of elected officials from news media. Also preload with list of all lobbyists registered with Congress (a public record). Record who politicians are seen with. Feed lobbyist location data, contribution data, and vote data into a machine learning algorithm to generate probable cause information for bribery investigations.
    • As much as I think CopWatch would be a good thing the extreme you take it to would probably wind up with cops getting killed. I much prefer one that only tracks these public servants while on duty.

      BribeWatch on the other hand would be a welcomed addition but how many people would actually pay attention to it given the atrocities elected officials commit now and still get elected.
  • by jonpublic (676412) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:53PM (#43338893)

    How would you feel if I told you every police officer would be wearing these in a couple years coupled with apps that recognize faces and search databases?

    Attend a rally for any cause and every law enforcement agency knows.

    That's what I'm worried about.

    • by Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @01:10PM (#43339193)

      I can promise you exactly that will happen, regardless what Google does or does not do. It may take ten years. It may take twenty. It will come.

      On the plus side, it will be a powerful means of curbing police abuse, because under the bright lights of a courtroom turning off those cameras will seem suspicious to every jury. Furthermore the police will need to be trained how to handle false-positives in a professional manner, because the magic software will be constantly showing false positives.

      On the down side, there are ways to abuse this information. Now is the time to think calmly about safeguards.

  • Who's country records and uses against him every fucking move he makes outside his house. Something most British seem to be pretty cool with so why in the word would he give damn about google?

  • by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @12:59PM (#43339007) Journal

    it becomes ever more clear that this is a company hell-bent on innovating first and asking questions later, if ever.

    I'm totally fine with that. Make new shit, put it out there. Might be expensive at first but then it'll be hacked, copied, and democratized.

    That attitude... Just really grinds my gears. Rant incoming.

    I'm tired of the constant handwringing over EVERYTHING. Everything has to be safe, everything has to be second-guessed, everything has to be politicized, everyone has to be sued, but most importantly everyone has to be SCARED of EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME.

    You can't feed the world because "well, can you PROVE GMOs aren't harmful?!" "Um, you sure can't prove they are, and I think the burden falls on you to..." "BUT THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!"

    You can't power the world because "Climate change!" "Okay, fair enough, I'll give you that one, CO2 does cause global warming. Let's switch to nuclear." "But can you PROVE it'll never blow up?!" "Well we can design plants that won't release radiation. But fine, how about wind?" "BIRDS!" "Uh, waves?" "FISH!"

    I wonder if the first caveman to build a fire had to deal with that crap. "Look, Ugh make fire. Fire good, keep warm!" "Ohhhhhh nooooOOOoooOOOooo no no no put it out it's too hot it might hurt the chiiiiiiiiillldren think of the chiiiiiiildren!"

    • by jxander (2605655)

      A decent rant, but let me advocate the devil. The issue becomes one of dubious intent. Caveman didn't invent/discover/harness fire with the express purpose of burning down his neighbors cave, or long term dominance of all cavemankind. With companies like google or montsano, I'm not so certain. In fact, I would be genuinely surprised if someone high up their respective chains of command wasn't steering the engineers in certain directions for explicitly nefarious purposes.

      I don't doubt the engineers thems

  • While privacy concerns are there, we've lived in a society where someone sufficiently motivated/funded can obtain a wearable covert recording device for decades.

    This levels the playing field, as previously it has been law enforcement, PI's, corporations and spies exploiting the capability. Institutionally controlled cameras are already everywhere. We read stories about how warrants are being dropped as a requirement into cellular/email/online records, and real time access is something governments ask lawmak

  • it becomes ever more clear that this is a company hell-bent on innovating first and asking questions later

    I'd prefer that over sue/patent first and innovate later, or don't innovate at all, which is the direction most tech companies are headed in.

  • Google Glass looks set to invade not only the privacy of the people who wear it, but also of all the people they interact with, including those who may wish to remain relatively anonymous. The wearer will inform the system about what the names of these people are and where to find them (address, phone numbers), while the system will then learn what these people look like and what their habits are. If all this were only used to sell everyone more stuff then that wouldn't be so bad, but the problem is that i

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