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Google Glass attacked by privacy campaigners

Sam Loveridge

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Stop the Cyborgs campaign
Stop the Cyborgs campaign

Privacy campaigners have gathered together to attack Google Glass and other augmented reality technology, arguing that the gadget will make private lives impossible.

London-based privacy campaign “Stop The Cyborgs” is fighting to impose restrictions upon when and where the Google Glass headset can be used in public. The campaigners are also suggesting Google and other augmented reality device manufacturers should make a promise not to feature facial recognition,

The Stop The Cyborgs campaign started at the end of February, but the group is working hard to raise awareness of privacy issues before Google Glass launches early next year.

“We are not calling for a total ban,” said a campaign worker to the BBC, identified only as Jack. “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.”

The campaign has produced several posters warning people not to use Google Glass, which, according to Stop the Cyborgs, have already been downloaded thousands of times.

“It’s important for society and democracy that people can chat and live without fear that they might end up being published or prosecuted,” reads the Stop The Cyborg campaign manifesto.

“‘If the government installed CCTV cameras and microphones everywhere, all feeding information to a central control room you would probably characterise it as a privacy risk. Is it any better if it’s run by a corporation and the devices are attached to people’s heads? Or if it uses human spy drones, which are socially incentivised to share information rather than automatic drones?’”

Google recently launched its Glass Explorer campaign, asking North American citizens to tweet what they would do if they had a pair of Google Glass. The augmented reality technology works by suspending a small glass HUD panel in the top right hand corner of the wearer’s field of vision and allows users to take photos, record videos and other features via voice control.

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

“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.”

Google Glass is due to become available for general sale by 2014. The augmented reality headset is already available to developers and the chosen Google Explorers willing to pay the $1,500 asking price.

Do you think Google Glass and other augmented reality technology will infringe on our privacy? How do you think Google should combat privacy issues raised in their final Google Glass product? Give us your thoughts on the matter via the TrustedReviews Twitter and Facebook pages or the comments below.

Borkr

March 27, 2013, 8:29 pm

"Do you think Google Glass and other augmented reality technology will infringe on our privacy?"

Not as a non-user, it'll be those using the device themselves who are going to be supplying the most data to Google Inc. Though I do somewhat contradict myself as I continue my point is it all depends on what personal info is already out there.

We are already photographed millions of times when we're out and about if living in a large urban area like London. There are so many tourists snapping away you might wonder in how many photographs you unwittingly appear in as part of the distracting background 'noise'.

Now, if you're automatically tagged in images and these are linked to fuller profiles then surely that will induce a cause for concern for privacy violation. But, are your details already online - Facebook etc? Perhaps we are ourselves to blame as we're relying far too much on incorporating social network sites into every other internet activity we partake in.

A picture of someone anonymous will remain just another face in the crowd if there's not a ream of information attached to it so maybe it's up to us to ensure we don't put too much personal info out there that helps reduce that noise and sharpen Google Glass' acuity? I can imagine the stories coming in the future when people are mistakenly tagged as someone else, a celebrity or someone infamous, living or dead. No doubt there will be all kinds of stupid apps developed that have scurrilous intentions that will see the companies behind them getting bad press and present legal issues: defamation etc.

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