Google Glass changes notions of privacy



Google Glass is an amazing creation. It’s small, light, compact and easy to use. Perhaps best of all, it’s not distracting. It looks like a pair of glasses, unobtrusive.

It can do all the amazing things most smart phones can do that we take for granted these days – internet access, Bluetooth connectivity, social media and so on.

It can also take video. And there is the rub.

A news report appeared on NPR about a New Jersey filmmaker who witnessed an arrest recently. A man was arrested by police for fighting in public. Neither the police officer, the suspect nor anyone around knew the filmmaker was recording the whole incident. And why would they?

He didn’t use his hands; there was no obvious holding of a device, pointing it at people. There was no click of a camera. The only reason you would know something is recording is the little light of the Glass screen.

The filmmaker claims this is the first arrest recorded on Glass. I am willing to bet it won’t be the last.

This, however, raises some very important privacy concerns. We are residents in the 21st century and should have no qualms being recorded. Anytime we go outside and into a public space we expect it. Between CCTV security cameras and other people’s cell phones, there’s always the chance you can be caught on film somewhere. Even our personal phones track us and our actions. Ever notice that many phone apps require GPS and location settings turned on? They are tracking you for a multitude of reasons, from data usage to favorite hangouts to who is around you.

Privacy has been a myth for a while now.

But Google Glass is a game-changer. Before, we would at least be aware of those who might be recording us and give tacit approval. A blatant use of a camera being held in my direction would allow me to see who is filming me and at least have the option of avoiding it. But what if anyone so much as looking in my direction could potentially record my actions? That’s different. If Google Glass becomes as ubiquitous as the iPhone, every action I take could potentially be recorded – if I fall down, YouTube will have comments laughing; if I run a red light, the police have a live video of it happening; if a teacher is having a drink in the background of my video, they could lose their job.

I’ve already commented in this publication how social media and recording devices have made it relatively simple for big events to be recorded instantly by all angles. With Google Glass, even the small events could be caught and uploaded for eternity for all to see.

It should make us all pause on what that might mean.

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