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
    +1

    Comment number 83.

    @74 they have been doing that for years, as have BMX'ers, MTB'ers and pretty much any other sport where your hands are busy hence most of these worries oin this page are already real yet people don't seem bothered right now only if Google did it. Thats what strange to me.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 82.

    @75 You fail to appreciate that the Glasses are not invading the wearers privacy but the privacy of everyone else!

    I might not have a phone ... but if the glasses pick me up, facial recognition etc then I am being tracked.

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 81.

    How about everyone just calm down, and have a pint or not it's your choice. It's just technology. You are human beings, you have the choice to use it or not.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 80.

    @bus hugger

    Define 'soon', and provide a citation for your definition - preferably from a peer-reviewed journal. The point is that this is nothing more than a natural extension of smartphone technology. Now, there may be a debate to be had over whether or not ANY portable electronic devices should be allowed to record video footage in public places, but that debate isn't about Google Glass.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 79.

    If you're in public, you're in public - a fact that royals and other celebrities have lived with for decades. There are already countless CCTV cameras in public places; the advantage of the public having their own cameras is that the footage can't be mysteriously lost if it's inconvenient to the powers-that-be such as the police (think "Ian Tomlinson").

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 78.

    Perhaps this will encourage data zombies to actually look where they are going.
    Nothing to hide.. not at the moment. Will a trip to the pub, if recorded, increase insurance costs?
    Would be good for tourism.
    Like everything it depends how it's used.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 77.

    Privacy has changed so much in the last decade, many who have grown up with social networking don't worry about privacy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 76.

    I adore new technology (e.g. mobile phones in 90's and tablets in this century) and I always have seen folks criticising them, fearing them, and in a few years, unable to live a life without them.

    I don't see this one will have a different fate. Going to love to scan things/find things and on click of arm of my glasses, finding information about them.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 75.

    The moment you walk outside your door with a mobile phone of any description, you leave a digital footprint: i.e. what transmission cell you're in. We can all be tracked and traced unless we live in caves completely 'off grid'. Google Glass is not really any different than using a smartphone: both know where you are and can tell you user and location specific stuff. Both have cameras. Big deal.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 74.

    56.Mister Point
    I could see these devices used by Law enforcement officers to record crime scenes/arrests, but for private usage? Nope.
    ---
    I can see plenty of people wanting them for skiing in (to bore everyone with their impressive downhill video), for making demonstration videos of their hobbies, or anything where hands-free isn't convenient.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 73.

    Next step is they start putting these inside our brains, just like in Doctor Who... Funny how sci-fi is becoming less and less fiction, but then we always try to make dreams reality.. that will scare a lot of people, but then, many were terrified at the thought of high-speed rail travel about 2 centuries ago..

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 72.

    "Smart phones dumb users" comes to mind.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 71.

    60 CaptainBeaky - Nothing to hide, nothing at all - I'm open to new technology - unlike most of the people commenting. This piece of technology could be revolutionary. I do have curtains at home and I don't close them unless I'm hungover and need some dark time. Bank account? If you're so insecure that everyone in this world is a thief or pervert you need to restore your faith in humanity.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 70.

    Now, as a spectacle wearing disabled person, one more thing for me to be victimised for!

    As with all technology that COULD be mis-used, it doesn't mean it WOULD be mis-used.

    Screwdrivers could be used as weapons, but in the main they are used as tools. Do we prevent hardware shops selling screwdrivers next?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 69.

    Surely solving crime would be a lot easier if you could record it to the cloud in real time? In fact I'd expect muggings and attacks on people recording everything instantly to be reduced for one benefit.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 68.

    #35
    How do you know somone won't be recording you on your mobile on your way home from work?

    Think the recent "racist tube rant" woman, who went to jail. Think all the pervs sneaking pics at women.

    And how would I know there was no camera?

    I'd probably look at the specs!

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 67.

    Why on earth would anyone want to put their entire private life - f**ts, burps and everything - onto the US digital repository (as well as looking a complete prat)?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    Don't see the problem, sorry but we have millions of internet capable phones with HD cameras attached, millions of web cams and CCTV cameras which are insecurely linked to the internet, let's get worked up about cameras which are in clear view, on someones face? That just means I have someone who's accountable right in front of me.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 65.

    That would restrain technologies evolution and how do we know if we have never even tried them?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 64.

    I think I'm more likely to notice someone saying "glass, take a video" to themselves, than I am of seeing someone discretely take a video of me with their camera phone.

    A load of scaremongering nonsense. Sounds like something the pope would come up with.

 

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