Privacy Lost

Google GlassPeople seem to be going gaga over Google Glass. I get it. It’s a cool piece of technology. It looks like the future that the sci-fi movies I watched when I was younger promised us. As soon as I wrote that last sentence, a thought occurred to me. Most of those movies were of dystopian futures. I don’t remember a whole lot of movies where those glasses were used to talk to your mom or your kids. Usually they were used to hunt people down that committed crimes that didn’t seem to really be crimes at all. The one exception I remember was Geordi La Forge, but he was blind. You didn’t see the whole crew on the Enterprise opting to have a screen in front of their eyes at all times.

I see so many cool applications for Google Glass. You could instantly know the name of the person in front of you that you were only introduced to last year. You could get driving directions without distracting you from the road. You could see all your car’s dashboard info without looking down. You could see if the call buzzing in your pocket was even worth picking up without taking your phone out. Those are just the ones I came up with while writing this. The possibilities are huge.

I also see a huge set of problems with Google Glass. The most important one I see is privacy. But I get to choose to use them or not, so it’s no big deal you say? I’m not worried about you. That’s your problem. What about all the other people that you encounter every day? Are you going to walk around with your Google Glass turned off except when you have permission from everyone in your line of sight that using them is ok? I didn’t think so. That raises a lot of potential issues.

Google Glass is connected to Google’s servers, so it has to be reporting back everything you see all the time. That means that Google would have access to everything you see wherever you go. Don’t forget to take those off before you go into the bathroom or the locker room at the gym. Seriously. Don’t.

All that data is very valuable to Google. They’ll be able to target you with advertising like never before. They will also be able to use their facial recognition software to know everyone you saw or interacted with. Plus, it has a microphone. That means they’ll hear whatever you hear. Anyone wondering how much of that is recorded? Me, too. I’m also wondering what a government will need to do to get access to all that information or to tap it somehow. Wear one of these and your privacy is infinitely more compromised than it is using a smartphone with GPS and Facebook. Temper your excitement with that thought before you jump into Google Glass. It’s cool, but it has some serious drawbacks. Oh and if you’re coming to talk to me, turn off your Google Glass and put them in your bag first, please. That’s the polite thing to do. I don’t storm into your house recording video and audio and uploading it all to Facebook.

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