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Privacy Controversy Surrounding The Use Of Google Glass

By Nathan Roberson | Small Business

Privacy Controversy Surrounding The Use Of Google Glass image Screen Shot 2013 10 01 at 7.24.41 PMPrivacy Controversy Surrounding The Use Of Google Glass

Not every brand-new invention prompts controversy that is sure to last as long as the device itself lasts, but chances are that this may be true for Google Glass. The little computer, which perches on the face just like a pair of glasses, has already been the topic of many discussions about privacy, and the gadget isn’t even available to the public yet.

A limited number of advance users have had the opportunity to purchase and try out this technology. While many of the users themselves have been pleased with the technology, some people are concerned that the technology will make it all too easy to intrude into a person’s sphere of privacy.

What Are The Current Privacy Laws?

On a very basic level, the privacy laws can be described as the right to be left alone. A person has the right to keep their own information and personal affairs out of the public’s attention. More specific laws outline the legality of recording a video or audio of another person and the different circumstances surrounding the recordings.

Some examples include:

  • Protecting people from being electronically (or otherwise) recorded in the privacy of their home
  • Protection against their personal information being made public
  • Protection against having untrue information which casts the person in a negative light (even if only the individual feels that it is negative)

What Does This Have to Do with Google Glass?

How has this hands-free device come under fire? The controversy seems to have been stirred up due to the easiness of using the device. It seems that it will be too easy for the user to take a recording of other parties. Some people are concerned that recordings will be made where it isn’t appropriate.

Just How Easy Is It To Make a Recording?

In the original design, the user will reach up to the Google Glass frames (which look a lot like the frames of eyeglasses), tap a button, and then verbally give a command. For example: “Okay Glass. Record video.” This method of recording doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to catch. However, one developer has already created a way to make a recording, specifically to take pictures, simply by winking.

There is another sign that a recording is being made, however, and that is a little light right at the front of the glass. This light should warn people that they are in range of a recording device. Admittedly, it will only be helpful to those people who understand what role the light plays.

There is another important side to this question, however. Today, people are already carrying around their smartphones, snapping pictures and making recordings. Many of these recordings are being made without other people knowing.

Some of  those with the strongest concerns regarding Google Glass point out situations in schools, playgrounds, and other public areas where children could be at risk. With the number of cellphones already being used to capture photographs and video recordings in these same situations, the same potential for recording someone without them being aware has already been realized.

The Consequences of Legislation

Recently a YouTube video was created using the Google Glass and apparently the filmed parties weren’t aware that they were being filmed. Several lawmakers have written up a series of concerns and submitted them to Google, expecting a fast response. Concerned parties are afraid that they will be continuously filmed and monitored by those people who are wearing the computer-carrying eyeglasses. However, if the use of the technology is restricted in certain buildings, settings, and circumstances, what is that going to mean for everyone who has become accustomed to carrying their smartphones with them?

No Facial Recognition Technology Has Been Approved

Those who are concerned can breathe one small sigh of relief, though. Google has stated that it will not approve the use of technology which allows the device to provide facial recognition. The manufacturer has policy in place stating that the signal light must be on when pictures or videos are being made. They have also said that any applications involving the use of facial recognition and identification abilities will not be approved by the company.

The controversy doesn’t end with this policy, however. Google has also left the device unlocked and even encouraged developers to hack their system and then create their own applications. (These won’t be sold through the official app store, but it doesn’t seem that most techies will have a problem finding the apps.)

Where this controversy eventually leads might not be fully realized for several years. It does seem likely that the arguments surrounding the device will be around for a while.

Image via: HongKiat

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