Today, I received the Google Glass kit for the first time. After playing with it for a few minutes to figure out how it works, I let my friend try it out. When I get it back, it’s filled to the brim with videos of me from the past five minutes going about my business. I had no clue that she had been taking these videos, and if she hadn’t told me about it, I may have never known that they existed.
I found this to be rather uncomfortable. Not because my friends could take videos of me without my knowledge (they do that already), but because ANYONE with a Google Glass could take videos or pictures of me without my knowledge. Now, I’m not a stickler about my own privacy by any means, but in a world filled with Google Glass wearing pedestrians, I don’t think I would enjoy the constant thought that anybody looking at me throughout my day could actually be recording me.
I’d like to note that although I wouldn’t enjoy this thought (and I’m sure most people wouldn’t), I think eventually we would slowly become numb to it to the point that we are aware of it but simply don’t care. I’m basing this on the fact we’ve seen this happen many times before over the past few decades, just with different technologies. First, cameras became affordable enough for the average Joe to buy one, which entertained the idea that now strangers could photograph you. Since then, cameras have gotten smaller, added video taping functionality, and gotten into everyone’s phones. With each new iteration, a persons privacy has been stripped away one layer at a time, causing outrage at first, and acceptance over time.
But now we’re back to the present and Google has given us a device to making photography even creepier, and many people are not too happy about it. One of the first apps created for Glass was a video taping app that disabled the record light on the front of the glasses, even during recording. This may have been done to make a point about how vulnerable the technology is, but I’m confident that there are people out in the world who would use that app to help them be sneaky. The fact is that with all new technologies, there will always be people who are going to use it for evil. In this case, some people will use Glass to film unknowing bystanders. Guaranteed.
Reactions to the Glass prototype being released and distributed have involved many restaurants, bars, and even a pet store to ban the product on their property. They claim that their patrons should be able to “have some reassurance that they can let off a bit of steam and be silly for an evening without it being splashed all over YouTube without their prior knowledge”. Most of these establishments are located in the the Bay Area as well as Seattle, where most of the prototypes have been dispersed, but as they spread East, more places of business will likely follow suit.
In addition to business owners, ordinary people have been up in arms over Glass (sometimes literally). There have even been a few cases of wearers of Glass being assaulted in the streets. In a less violent setting, a group of people has started a coalition called Stop The Cyborgs that has made it its mission to see that Google Glass never gets in the hands of the general public (although I’m pretty general so I guess they’ve already failed). I’ll post their website below so you peruse what they have to say.
In all, I’m interested to see how the Glass project turns out. Of course, there are those who are vehemently against it and there are those who really aren’t bothered by it, but I’m not sure how many people fall into each category (I don’t even know where I would fall on the spectrum). I had heard of the unrest that Glass was causing long before today, but I never understood how easy it really is to discretely invade your privacy with it until I saw it with my own eyes.
Stop The Cyborgs official site (hey, at least they use wordpress)