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Privacy group overreacts to Google banning Glass and smartphones from its own shareholder meeting

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Privacy group overreacts to Google banning Glass and smartphones from its own shareholder meeting
Sometimes, it feels like rabid privacy advocate groups will take any small scrap they can in the never-ending crusade to save us all from... actually, we're not quite sure what we're being saved from. We have defended Google Glass in the past, and we don't see it as any more of a threat to privacy than cameras and smartphones that came before it. But, not everyone believes that, so hearing that Google banned Glass and smartphones from its own shareholder meeting was bound to cause a stir, as silly as it may be.

Not to disappoint, Consumer Watchdog has jumped on the story. Google banned shareholder meeting attendees from using any electronic devices such as smartphones, cameras and recording devices; and, Glass falls into that category. Not surprisingly, this sent Consumer Watchdog into a rage. John M. Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog, said in a press release:
Google has unleashed one of the most privacy invasive devices ever. Google Glass aids and abets people who want to invade our privacy by videoing or photographing us surreptitiously, but when it comes to their own privacy Google executives jealously guard it.

We think that kind of reaction is hyperbolic at best. Google has always said that common sense is a key to the supposed privacy concerns of Google Glass. Google wouldn't expect you to wear the product in a public shower (Robert Scoble aside), and obviously Google fully expects Glass to not be allowed in highly sensitive areas like shareholder meetings, research labs, the Oval Office, etc. where recording devices of any sort aren't allowed anyway. 

At the end of the day, Google Glass is nothing so incredibly new that it deserves to be a lightning rod over privacy. We have rules and norms around cameras, when they are appropriate and when they aren't. The same will apply to Glass. A person can't record someone any more "surreptitiously" with Glass than with any other kind of camera. Let's all stop pretending that you can. 

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posted on 07 Jun 2013, 17:56 2

1. JaseelEbrahim (Posts: 31; Member since: 24 Jul 2012)


Oh the irony

posted on 07 Jun 2013, 18:01 2

2. roscuthiii (Posts: 1785; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


The "Glass" tagline is getting old. May as well say "recording devices" but somehow Glass is getting all the scrutinization. There are far more clandestine gadgets out there if you secretly want to record something than the blaringly obvious Google Glass.

Technology has always followed a certain path. A hands-free headset like Glass has always been one of the points-of-destination for the digital video recorder.

posted on 07 Jun 2013, 18:01 2

3. kozza3 (Posts: 574; Member since: 17 Oct 2012)


this whole thing is getting quite annoying...
http://www.amazon.com/MV-8GBP-MEGASight-Sunglasses-built-Definition/dp/B0087HK5NK/ref=pd_sim_sbs_p_2

what are you gonna do to stop this???

posted on 07 Jun 2013, 18:26

4. Shatter (Posts: 1957; Member since: 29 May 2013)


They have sold glasses for years that record, why so much hate for googles.

posted on 07 Jun 2013, 20:58

5. papss (unregistered)


What is the purpose of these glasses if not to be invasive? We have the government on one side taking data, what would happen if they wanted to take this video data from google?

posted on 07 Jun 2013, 23:04 2

6. Edmund (Posts: 654; Member since: 13 Jul 2012)


The fact that google wants to make this a pervasive technology. Right now it's quite simple to ascertain if a person is filming you and your family with a smartphone: they're the idiot pointing a 5 inch lump of plastic directly at your daughter, son, GF etc; But what if there are 20 people in the crowd with these (more or less) inconspicuous gadgets strapped to their heads?? I'm sure 19 of them are probably genuine users, but there's also a good chance that the 20'th person is up to no good and spotting them becomes a lot more difficault when everyone is performing the same natural act of "looking around".
This technology will never get its feet off the ground, no matter how much google and its cohort of blind followers (fanboys) try to defend it.

posted on 08 Jun 2013, 03:50 1

7. AlanB412 (Posts: 23; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)


Being entirely hypothetical, if I wanted to take a picture of you daughter right now, all I'd have to do is hold my phone up, stare intently at the screen, and swipe my finger around a bit as though I'm writing a text message while I take candid shots with the phone camera. I can say from experience that nobody but the most alert people will ever even think that something is wrong with me doing that, because in this day and age everyone is and idiot toting around a 5 inch lump of plastic with cameras on both the front and the back.

I don't condone or promote invasion of privacy, but I also don't condone people stupidly saying that these $1500 will be easier to creep with than other existing technology made SPECIFICALLY for that purpose.

I do however find your optimistic belief that you'll someday find 20 people in a single crowd with Google Glasses highly amusing lol

posted on 08 Jun 2013, 04:06 2

8. AlanB412 (Posts: 23; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)


Michael H, since you seem to be spearheading the defense of Google Glass, I recommend you do an article showing some of the widely available existing technology people can use to invade privacy(camera pens, camera glasses, hidden voice recorders, button shaped spy cams, etc). Possibly even describe some of the many tactics people can already use to invade people's privacy(pretending to send text messages, apps that black out a phones screen but allow use of the camera, etc). I'd be willing to help you find some of these things myself if necessary, although I'm sure you'd be able to get most of the information yourself seeing as its all widely available online. Please feel free to let me know if you'd like some help though.

I think it's fair to say that writing about these things or even posting links to some of the products won't really be enabling people to invade privacy: anyone who wanted to do so would already know about these things anyways. Writing an article like this would serve more as an educational piece than anything else. It would teach people about certain devices and tactics that they should keep an eye out for and give them the know-how to combat them if they ever feel their privacy is being invaded.

I will admit though, Part of my motivation is that I would also just love to see the comments section for an article like that. I'd like to imagine that after showing all these sheltered souls just how easy it is for their privacy to be invaded they will break down into terrified paranoid tears and never leave their houses again without wondering just how many pictures have been taken of them by all these dang kids with their iGalaxy Nexus Berries and such. Unlikely that they'll react that way, but I can always hope.

posted on 08 Jun 2013, 05:56

9. papss (unregistered)


Alan the problem with your perception is that none of the products work exactly like google glass does and none have the tech that GG does, if it did these GG would have came out already. they have been working on these for some time nowAlso wearing glasses with a camera and holding up your cell to take a picture is far different. If you hold you phone up to my level to take my picture it's going to look suspicious as hell... I'm sure the google defender Michael will have a grand article about it like they are paying him directly.

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