Google questioned about Project Glass, yet again

By on June 19, 2013, 3:30 PM
google, larry page, privacy, project glass, wearable computing, google glass

In move that probably surprises no one, Google has once again faced scrutiny for Project Glass, the company’s attempt at making wearable technology a ‘thing’. This time, the search-giant received a letter sent by ten government privacy and data protection officials residing in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Israel, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

The officials did not outwardly attack the California-based company, but rather asked to learn more about the actual device, requesting an exclusive demo of the yet-to-be released product. According to the New York Times, the letter asked, “Would Google be willing to demonstrate the device to our offices and allow any interested data protection authorities to test it?” The other major concern was what Google would do with information collected by the devices, and how the company would handle “the broader social and ethical issues” that the technology would present.

Despite the concerns, Larry Page, Google’s CEO, is adamant that Glass does not pose a threat to public privacy. He compared his product to any smartphone on the market, explaining how any handheld device can take concealed pictures and videos just as easily. He added, “People worry about a lot of things that, when we use the products, don’t turn out to be an actual concern.”

Page also pointed out that several of his employees use the wearable tech on a daily basis, and it hasn’t led to any fear in the workplace.

Although Google has made its stance on the issue clear, at least they have addressed some of the privacy concerns that have been raised. Last month, the company announced that facial recognition software would be prohibited, and that a complete data wipe could be executed if the device was ever lost or stolen.

Do you think the issues raised by the government officials are a legitimate concern, or is Page right in dismissing these fears as baseless?




User Comments: 26

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cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Do you think the issues raised by the government officials are a legitimate concern, or is Page right in dismissing these fears as baseless?
They are only concerned for their own privacy, they couldn't care less about anyone else's privacy. They would like to use Google Glass behind closed doors, but can't chance any secretes getting out.

MilwaukeeMike said:

I think it's an important conversation to have, but it reminds of something I read in WIRED once. There was an article about why some new technologies scared people and other new tech didn't. They found it came down to whether the new tech was personal in some way. So e-commerce scared us at first, but streaming movies didn't. Glass definitely falls into the personal technology category, and that means we're going to be wary of it at first... like having a strange dog in the house. You gotta keep one eye on it until you're sure it's house trained.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You gotta keep one eye on it until you're sure it's house trained.
LOL

That is ironic seeing as Google glass is only designed for one eye.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

.. like having a strange dog in the house. You gotta keep one eye on it until you're sure it's house trained.
So then maybe you should put your Google Glass on, and give the dog "stink eye" with it, when you see him starting to squat?

I hear the next generation of Google Glass is going to have a "spank ray" in it, which will hit with the force of a half dozen rolled up newspapers.*nerd*

Supposedly, all seven dwarfs will be wearing that model in the upcoming NC-17 release of, "Snow White, But not for Long"....:oops:

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Geordi La Forge is shaking in his custom-made boots...

Wearing these I would be concerned to forget one day it is on me and walk into a john while video feed is on, broadcasting online or in a video conference...

And true, seeing this thing on somebody on the street makes you first think you are being recorded on video, and nobody is going to like that. The first person taking a beating for that will make all the PR that Google will need to pull it out...

Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

I'd love to stroll about inside the Pentagon & the NSA offices all day with these things on & in recording mode. I wonder if any of the officials will object.

adamaant adamaant said:

We are a paranoid society. And as they say, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean that everyone isn't out to get you. That said, people tend to want to conform to social cues and etiquette. When I see a tourist (looking) person on the street filming family, buildings or landmarks I don't automatically assume they are going to invade my privacy. I also don't think that the guy standing next to me at the urinal could be secretly recording me. Will some nut jobs do inappropriate things with these devices? Probably, but the concern people have over it far out ways the actual threat. If I see someone wearing one on the street, I would assume he was using it for directions, or other tasks the device is intended for. Larry Page has it right. It's just not going to, or very very rarely happen that people will invade another person's privacy. As for what Google does with information collected, that's an important issue. I suggest that it's not much different than the already collect with cell phones now.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

As for what Google does with information collected, that's an important issue. I suggest that it's not much different than the already collect with cell phones now.
Google, (and other search engines), have already collected information far beyond that which is tasteful. They're a major intrusion on people's lives. Whether, it's jamming their cameras in your front door with "Street View", offering you a free browser that tracks your every internet move, or reading your Email to "offer your the benefit of targeted ads", they are straight up, flat out, out of control. They know more than the government about us. And now they want to equip John Q. Public with a built in privacy invasion nightmare. First time somebody points this Google Glass s*** at me, I'm calling the police.

adamaant adamaant said:

As for what Google does with information collected, that's an important issue. I suggest that it's not much different than the already collect with cell phones now.
Google, (and other search engines), have already collected information far beyond that which is tasteful.

Yet they do all this distasteful data collection within the laws of this country. We as a people are a democracy and elect lawmakers that can respond to your concerns. If enough of them are elected to pass additional privacy laws some of these issues could be resolved for you. Unfortunately for those that have minority opinions, it's hard to legislate unpopular policy. So, you are left with one option. Don't use their service, or use the "incognito" mode that is provided to erase your tracks. The fact is, there are a lot of options you have as a consumer. Another is posting on a forum like this which might have some (however small) influence on the opinions of others. I personally believe meta-data is fairly harmless when collected. It just means that ads that I see will likely be more relevant to me. Oh by the way, unless Glass is illegal in your area, the police could in fact issue you a citation for calling them.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yet they do all this distasteful data collection within the laws of this country.
Only if they ignore a few of the laws.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

. I personally believe meta-data is fairly harmless when collected. It just means that ads that I see will likely be more relevant to me.
You betcha! It's also been said that, "a fool and his money are soon parted company". On the veracity of that, "targeted ads" are simply Google trolling for fools
Oh by the way, unless Glass is illegal in your area, the police could in fact issue you a citation for calling them.
Well, it is true that you have little expectation of privacy in a public area. Even less so in the commission of a crime. However surveillance cameras are in a fixed position and generally survey a specific public area. If you walk into that area and do something you don't want to be caught at, just do it someplace else, or suffer the possible consequences..

In the case of Google Glass, the surveillance IS following you. There are laws against stalking. Which is what I'd claim should I be given that ticket.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Only if they ignore a few of the laws.
Oh really? You seem to be modifying your opinion to suit the topic. After all the railing you've done about the evils of PRISM, now it's excusable the Google shoves it's nose into every corner of your life? Who do you think one of the places is the NSA goes to when it wants to know something?

Perhaps this is a technicality, but what the NSA has done so far, isn't illegal either. So, rejoice in that.

adamaant adamaant said:

. There are laws against stalking. Which is what I'd claim should I be given that ticket.

Would be hard to prove that they were recording you when all you need to do to point the thing is turn your head. "Officer, that guy over there looked at me!", "so?", "Well he has one of those things on his head that can record stuff!", "Yea, how do you know he was recording?", "Ummm...".

I doubt there will be too many cases where the would prosecute something like that, unless the person was a known criminal, or broke a restraining order. You are right to bring up current laws that would also cover Glass. Walking down the street wearing something that could record you is a lot different than if you were actually being recorded. I'm not even sure that recording someone on public property is considered an invasion of privacy. People bring camera's to the beach all the time. I've never seen a sign that said "No Cameras".

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Oh really? You seem to be modifying your opinion to suit the topic.
Since I haven't been making myself clear, then there is no need in trying further.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I doubt there will be too many cases where the would prosecute something like that, unless the person was a known criminal, or broke a restraining order. You are right to bring up current laws that would also cover Glass. Walking down the street wearing something that could record you is a lot different than if you were actually being recorded. I'm not even sure that recording someone on public property is considered an invasion of privacy. People bring camera's to the beach all the time. I've never seen a sign that said "No Cameras".
Oh really. Then I suggest you take your camera to a well patrolled beach and point it at whoever strikes your fancy. I guarantee the before long you might have to explain that you aren't a pedophile or worse.

Try not to make such sweeping statements, you never know what story the second party is likely to tell.

Another thing to consider is this. In this day and age people take and upload pictures all the time that are embarrassing to the person photographed. The onus seems to be one the injured party to have that junk removed. I suppose you could copyright your face up front and sue if that happens, but just imagine the time, money, and further issues it would bring about in your life.

Since I haven't been making myself clear, then there is no need in trying further.
Good, we have a consensus.

Much of what Telecoms and search engines are doing today is technically illegal. What gets them by is pop culture has come to expect certain things.

I like to point this out; when AT&T was broken up, one of the reasons was the fact it was illegal for a person to own their own phone. You had to pay perennial rent for for a technology you were never allowed to own.

Fast forward to 2013. you expect to rent your "smartphone", and have a contract that doesn't really separate the phone rental charges and usage charges. So, for all intents and purposes, it's an end run around existing laws.

The Telecoms have a ton of lobbyists, and I suspect that you're not one of them.

1 person liked this | adamaant adamaant said:

Oh really. Then I suggest you take your camera to a well patrolled beach and point it at whoever strikes your fancy. I guarantee the before long you might have to explain that you aren't a pedophile or worse.

Try not to make such sweeping statements, you never know what story the second party is likely to tell.

I'm sure you are right, but the point is, most people don't take pictures of strangers at the beach. They take pictures of their family or loved ones. You have a very low opinion of people in general if you think everyone at the beach with a camera is a pervert. Seriously, there is such a thing as societal norms, and most folks abide them. You can find all kinds of weirdos out there. They are the ones already hiding cameras.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I'm sure you are right, but the point is, most people don't take pictures of strangers at the beach. They take pictures of their family or loved ones. You have a very low opinion of people in general if you think everyone at the beach with a camera is a pervert. Seriously, there is such a thing as societal norms, and most folks abide them. You can find all kinds of weirdos out there. They are the ones already hiding cameras.
All I'm saying is that there are situational differences, that can't be painted with as wide as brush as you suppose. Something that is as ostensibly "legal" as you suggest,can turn into something else entirely, predicated on the very norms you suggest exist.

Studies have been done that show the automobile is responsible for altering the personality of its driver.

I suspect the other toys in our lives, perhaps in smaller part, are capable of doing the same.

There is a certain voyeuristic aspect of Google Glass, that may exhibit its strongest pull to the most voyeuristic among us. Time will tell, I suppose

adamaant adamaant said:

There is a certain voyeuristic aspect of Google Glass, that may exhibit its strongest pull to the most voyeuristic among us. Time will tell, I suppose

So, it never even occurred to me when I first learned of them that they would be used like that. It wasn't until reading on forums like this that I heard those concerns. Honestly, I think it's much more positive than negative. It's the kind of thing that geeks like me have thought about since seeing the Terminator, or Robocop. LOL. I love the idea of not having to fish out my phone to answer a call or read a message. I like that I could snap a picture of a product in the store and get competitive prices without typing a thing. Give it a chance. As for voyeurs, they exist, but they don't need Google Glass to do it. They could spend as much or less for something a lot more discreet than Glass. Besides, I think they are going to have a big LED light come on when you are recording. Yea, that's real subtle.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

@adamaant, Would you please try to get a handle on quoting correctly? I'll argue all day and night, but I will try and get the form right for you.

LEDs huh? Savor this quote from a 50 year old Rolling Stones ditty, "I see a red door and I want it painted black"..

So, the red LED covers Google's butt, right?

adamaant adamaant said:

@adamaant, Would you please try to get a handle on quoting correctly? I'll argue all day and night, but I will try and get the form right for you.

LEDs huh? Savor this quote from a 50 year old Rolling Stones ditty, "I see a red door and I want it painted black"..

So, the red LED covers Google's butt, right?

I declare that I shouldn't have to know HTML to reply to someone's post! Sorry. I'll figure it out eventually.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I don't understand how you're getting your response inside my post by accident. I can do it on purpose though and I don't know the first thing about HTML...

That last entry was perfect though....

mailpup mailpup said:

I declare that I shouldn't have to know HTML to reply to someone's post!
It's not an HTML thing. HTML isn't even supported in these forums.

adamaant adamaant said:

I declare that I shouldn't have to know HTML to reply to someone's post!
It's not an HTML thing. :) HTML isn't even supported in these forums.

I promise to be more careful in the future.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I declare that I shouldn't have to know HTML to reply to someone's post! Sorry. I'll figure it out eventually.

I don't understand how you're getting your response inside my post by accident. I can do it on purpose though and I don't know the first thing about HTML...

That last entry was perfect though....

It's not an HTML thing. HTML isn't even supported in these forums.

I promise to be more careful in the future.
So we're dropping it now?

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