Google Glass has drawn a lot of flak from all quarters for intruding people’s privacy. This Techspirited article talks about some of the key privacy issues associated with Google Glass.
First Wearable Computer
Edward O. Thorp claims to be the inventor of the first ‘wearable computer’. In 1961, he, along with fellow mathematician Claude Shannon, built a couple of computerized timing devices to cheat at the game of roulette. One was concealed in a pack of cigarettes, and the other in a shoe.
Just before you raise your Google Glass for a toast to its phenomenal success, you might want to take a moment to think about the privacy concerns associated with it. There is no denying that Glass has been well received by most of the Explorers who have tested them. But, there have been an equal number, if not more, who are extremely skeptical about this new technological fad.
The main and obvious concern raised by people around the world has been that of intrusion of privacy. Google Glass is currently available with just about 10,000 explorers, but it is expected to hit the shelves sometime in 2014. You can read more about the cool things you can do with Google Glass, here. Once it is widely available, voices about the privacy issues with this device are only gonna get louder. Here’s a look at 6 of the biggest concerns that surround Google Glass.
Stop! Don’t Shoot
Probably the biggest, and most evident privacy concern raised by people the world over about Glass, is that anyone sporting it can, rather unscrupulously, record unsuspecting passersby, as they go about their business. Glass, with its 5 megapixel camera, will take photos, and record videos rather effortlessly, at your command. Google has time and again downplayed this by stating that the new updates for Glass require the user to push the touchpad to confirm the action of taking a video, or a still photograph. Also, the device is always on while recording, so that could be a clear giveaway. By default, Glass records 10-second videos, which can be changed to record till the memory on the device is full; however, the battery on board the device can only keep it going for about 45 minutes of continuous recording.
Who’s the Spy?
It is an open secret that a certain ‘Secret Service Agency’ of the Government keeps an eye on all data exchanged (emails, phone calls, text messages, etc.) between its citizens, and even a lot of people from around the world. With Glass, there is a risk of users becoming walking surveillance systems, without them ever knowing about it. Also, Google has in the past given in to Government pressure, and shared private information about its users with them.
Glass is bound to be hot on the radar of hackers, who will look to exploit any loopholes in the security of the device, and use it to further their evil schemes. Imagine a scenario, where a Glass user logs into his bank account online, while wearing his Google Glass, oblivious to the fact that his device has been hacked into. There is a possibility that through his Glass, he would transmit real-time images, including those of him entering his bank details. In response to similar concerns raised, Google has stated that it is only the users who have complete control over Glass, and Google would not be able to monitor the activities of the users.
It is no secret that Google logs the details of the online activities of its web users, and accordingly, directs relevant adverts towards them. In fact, this is one of the biggest generators of the online giant. Add to that, the fact that Google has successful applied for the patent of an eye tracking technology, which uses Glass to track exactly which part of the screen the user is looking at. Called Gaze Tracking System, the technology can track how long you gaze at something, and even how much your pupils dilate. The data can then be sent to its servers, and relevant adverts can then be directed towards the user. Although Google has currently banned adverts on Glass, it will in all probability roll these out in the future.
Face the Glass
Another major privacy concern about Glass, is the fact that it can be used as a facial-recognition device to recognize people. This can be a very serious breach of privacy, and possibly one of the biggest reasons why people have been rather apprehensive about accepting Glass. Google has reiterated that it does not plan to enable the feature ‘at this time’, which clearly indicates that there is a possibility of it being integrated into the system some time in the future. Besides, it remains to be seen if hackers and developers are able to outsmart Google, and find fixes to enable this feature.
Can’t find my Glass(es)!
Another problem that holds true for smartphones and Glass alike, is that of theft. As your device contains all your personal information, the consequences of losing their device is something that has always haunted smartphone users, and now, Glass users as well. Google offers a solution in its app called Device Manager for smartphones, which lets you locate, or remotely wipe out the information from your lost/stolen device. A similar feature is in the works, wherein users can locate, and/or delete data from Glass, in case it gets lost or stolen.
These loopholes aside, Glass promises to be a wonderful gadget, which can potentially change the way we interact with people, and our surroundings. Google Glass is still a work in progress, and Google would need to address all these concerns, and more, if they want all the hype about their product to translate into good sales. We would love to know what you think about this product; leave us a comment below, if you would like to share with us anything that you hate, or love about Google Glass. Cheers.