Privacy 'impossible' with Google Glass warn campaigners

 
Woman wearing Google Glass Widespread use of Google Glass could stifle freedom in civil society, campaigners warn

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Google Glass and other augmented reality gadgets risk creating a world in which privacy is impossible, warn campaigners.

The warning comes from a group called "Stop the Cyborgs" that wants limits put on when headsets can be used.

It has produced posters so premises can warn wearers that the glasses are banned or recording is not permitted.

The campaign comes as politicians, lawyers and bloggers debate how the gadgets will change civil society.

"We are not calling for a total ban," one of the campaign workers called Jack told the BBC in a message sent via anonymised email service Hushmail.

"Rather we want people to actively set social and physical bounds around the use of technologies and not just fatalistically accept the direction technology is heading in," he wrote.

Based in London, the Stop The Cyborgs campaign began at the end of February, he said, and the group did not expect much to happen before the launch of Google Glass in 2014.

Personal privacy

However, the launch coincided with a push on Twitter by Google to get people thinking about what they would do if they had a pair of the augmented reality spectacles. The camera-equipped headset suspends a small screen in front of an owner and pipes information to that display. The camera and other functions are voice controlled.

Google's push, coupled with the announcement by the 5 Point Cafe in Seattle to pre-emptively ban users of the gadget, has generated a lot of debate and given the campaign a boost, he said.

Posters produced by the campaign that warn people not to use Google Glass or other personal surveillance devices had been downloaded thousands of times, said Jack.

Ban sign Stop The Cyborgs wants to spark debate about the use of augmented reality headsets

In addition, he said, coverage of the Glass project in mainstream media and on the web had swiftly turned from "amazing new gadget that will improve the world" to "the most controversial device in history".

The limits that the Stop The Cyborg campaign wants placed on Google Glass and similar devices would involve a clear way to let people know when they are being recorded.

"It's important for society and democracy that people can chat and live without fear that they might end up being published or prosecuted," it said in a manifesto reproduced on its website.

"We are not anti-technology," said Jack. "We just want people to realise that technology is a powerful cultural force which shapes our society and which we can also shape."

In a statement, Google said: "We are putting a lot of thought into how we design Glass because new technology always raises important new issues for society."

"Our Glass Explorer program will give all of us the chance to be active participants in shaping the future of this technology, including its features and social norms," it said.

Already some US states are looking to impose other limits on augmented reality devices. West Virginia is reportedly preparing a law that will make it illegal to use such devices while driving. Those breaking the law would face heavy fines.

In addition, bloggers are debating the influence of augmented reality spectacles on everyday life. Blogger Ed Champion wrote up 35 arguments against the gadget saying it could force all kinds of unwanted changes.

He warned it could stifle the freedom people currently have to enjoy themselves because they know they are being watched.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 43.

    Interesting debate.

    Technology is moving forward at a faster + faster rate + it is natural to have concerns.

    However, it's important to keep things in perspective + not fall into a state of paranoia.

    If you're not actively harming other people or "being evil" you shouldn't really need to worry.

    We're probably going to run out of energy soon..so don't forget how to read, cook etc quite yet!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 42.

    This is ridiculous. Another classic campaign group trying to get attention by proclaiming utter nonsense. People can just as easily record the world around them with a mobile phone, and who is to say they are not just texting. People need to get a grip and accept that world is changing, and you can be a part of making it better, or you can try and block its progress.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 41.

    This is daft, misdirected, anti-Google propaganda. CCTV surrounds every public space, more than half of us already carry equipment capable of infringing peoples privacy in the ways suggested and spying equipment is available from high st stores, never mind what else you can buy online. This is an all too common knee jerk reaction to an exciting innovation that fails to acknowledge the root issues.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 40.

    The way most US companies treat confidentiality is like any thing goes and anything is for sale. Privacy what privacy. !!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 39.

    @18. eBooksUnited

    "People are allowed to audio and video record in the public. It's a part of our constitutional rights."

    We don't have a written constitution.

    If we did the Con-Dem Government, with the help of the Labour party, wouldn't be able to get away with this.

    http://tinyurl.com/cam63qo

    The sooner we get a written constitution protecting the British people the better.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 38.

    It's not just the privacy concerns one should be worried about.

    It's the destruction of human interaction. I've been to events where is it almost impossible to have a proper conversation with people because of the constant need to text, tweet, update Failbook and check their smartphones in case they've missed something in the 30 seconds since they last checked it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 37.

    Some people hate the thought of being photographed. This is an evasion of privacy, and only incredibly self-indulgent people would use it!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 36.

    Don't be evil... google, you already know everything about me, where i live, what i look at on-line, where i go in the street through my tracker *cough* sorry phone... we can't be just passive consumers of this technology any more, we have to wear it now and be plugged in to the grid as one of your products generating revenues as we search, walk, look, I'm not sure who benefits most.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 35.

    27.
    laughingdevil
    6 Minutes ago

    I'm sure that there is a very simple solution to this problem.

    No record/photo feature on AR glasses.

    Then those who want to have their reality "enhanced" by adds and info overload from google can.

    And the rest of us can go about our lives in peace.
    ........

    But how would you know? Once the door is open you can't shut it.

    Think Pandora's Box!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 34.

    As it gets more popular the technology behind it will get better/ smaller and thus more and more discrete making it almost impossible to detect compared to say an ordinary pair of glasses. However, the early versions will be clunky compared to modern glasses so the key for campaigners is to show the product is uncool, and thus reduce the desirability.
    Making rules won't work, undesirability will

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 33.

    Oh give over!

    Honestly do they actually think we want to look in to everybody else's life. Most of us have enough going on to not care everyone else is doing.

    If i decide to invest in one it wont be to look at Diddleypete for example (no offense intended pete just you were the first name I saw) , I don't know you or care what your up too so your privacy is safe

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 32.

    I worry about dodgy newspaper journalists, private investigators or police informers using these. We used to laugh at the thought of people being informed on by neighbours in countries where it was a big crime to be heard blaspheming against God for example. Strike up a conversation in a pub with a stranger wearing these glasses at your peril. Every word could be on the internet in seconds.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 31.

    Absolutely mad scaremongering, the blatantly evocative language is telling enough. It makes it sound like people are going to climb into your house and record you when the reality is that we're already filmed daily by security cameras, camera phones, handheld video cameras and by other recording devices yet somehow this is different?

    Read the Blogger Ed Champion article, skip to the closing point

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 30.

    Dear everyone,

    Technology is wonderful, but it isn't the be-all and end-all.

    Don't put all your faith in technology.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 29.

    Just because we can have this technology does not mean we should use this technology!
    No, im not a luddite, but anyone looking me with this gadget will automatically be classed as hostile & my response will be appropriate & swift!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 28.

    watch the documentary 'Building Gods'

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcoA46gJuqI

    Right up this street.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    I'm sure that there is a very simple solution to this problem.

    No record/photo feature on AR glasses.

    Then those who want to have their reality "enhanced" by adds and info overload from google can.

    And the rest of us can go about our lives in peace.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 26.

    It's usual for people to argue that privacy has decreased in a modern society. I disagree, it hasn't lessened, but rather it's definition has changed.

    The modern form of privacy is to hide in plain site - when everyone knows you're normal, then no one cares and your life is private. It's only when you act unusually that people start caring.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 25.

    Too late. Privacy is already impossible. I get recorded by at least five cameras if I just leave the house to walk the dog. Some private citizen catching me on camera is the least of my worries.

  • rate this
    +27

    Comment number 24.

    @5. kinrossguy
    "I find it amusing but somehow quite refreshing that Japanese Rail commuters take serious offence at people using Mobile Phones on trains."

    That's because in Japan they are often used to take "upskirt" photos.

 

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