Green Room

Video: Are Google Glasses a threat to privacy?

posted at 12:45 pm on May 11, 2013 by

“Why do you need Google on your face?” Scott Stein notes that Google already has had some privacy issues in the past. Frankly, I’m more concerned with the safety issues. Stein notes that the proliferation of smartphones already has drivers texting and e-mailing when they should be watching the road, and this won’t improve that problem by much.

But what about the surveillance issue and privacy? That’s going to be a big question, but not as big as the price tag:

$1500 to look like the Borg? Pass, at least for now. I wear prescription specs and have no desire to wear contact lenses (my astigmatism doesn’t make me a great candidate for them anyway), so I won’t be trying out Google Glasses any time soon.  I don’t think it will take too long, though, before these become as ubiquitous on the street as people with Bluetooth earpieces holding phone conversations.

Speaking of which, I recently joked that twenty years ago, we assumed anyone walking around talking to no one in particular was crazy; now we just assume they’re on a cell phone call.  How about people who stare at you for no discernible reason in the age of Google Glasses?  Do we assume they’re lost in thought, as we do now, or videotaping us?

Recently in the Green Room:



Trackback URL


Total agreement, Ed. Like you, I wear prescription glasses and haven’t had contacts since I was in college. If one of my daughters shows up in these, I’ll treat them exactly like a videocam: fine for birthdays and other things people normally record, but if we’re having a personal conversation – take them off first, please.

Marcola on May 11, 2013 at 3:12 PM

I don’t get all of the complaining about the price. These are not for sales to you. You cannot purchase these. You won’t be able to purchase anything even remotely close to it for at least a year. They are on sale ONLY to developers who want to build apps for the device.

Also, as for privacy issues, there is zero difference between a cell phone and Google glass other than Google Glass is on your face so you literally have to be looking directly at what you are filming. With a cell phone you can covertly video tape anyone you want without even glancing at them. You can fake a phone call and videotape someone while looking away from them with the phone up to your ear

thphilli on May 11, 2013 at 3:21 PM

$1,500 is not the price point of the product. That was the price point for those that wanted them early to test them out. It will be between $200-500. Not announced yet, but that’s where it’s going to fall. $1,500 is far too ridiculous for what is essentially a small camera and WiFi uploader.

BigWillieStyles on May 11, 2013 at 5:47 PM

Now I expect countermeasures to be developed.

Just a word of warning on infrared LEDs: In one frequency they burn the outer part of your eye. In another, your retina.

See the Application Note for Eye Safety at OSRAM

ProfShadow on May 12, 2013 at 5:27 AM

I’m not seeing how google glass is any more of a privacy issue than any other, already available (and probably cheaper) surveillance equipment. Beyond that, I don’t see any problem with someone recording what they are already viewing in person.

Count to 10 on May 12, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Beyond that, I don’t see any problem with someone recording what they are already viewing in person.

Count to 10 on May 12, 2013 at 6:20 AM

Neither do I.
This is all much ado about nothing.
We are a free society. Privacy issues should be dealt with by the states. Not the Fed.
From the 4th:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects

We all know what that’s in reference to.
Now does that protect us from nosy strangers & neighbors staring at us in public? No.
It’s when entities obtain the info by violating your privacy rights.
And when you’re in public, you’ve no right to privacy.
You want privacy, go find it.
BTW, if this was an Apple product, everybody’d be pi$$ing themselves silly trying to get this thing.

Badger40 on May 12, 2013 at 11:16 AM

I’m working on a baseball cap that emits thousands of tiny laser beams in all directions so no one looks at me.

Dusty on May 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM

They’re nothing but a Segway for your face.

An overpriced gadget for people with money to play with.

Moesart on May 12, 2013 at 12:51 PM

[Badger40 on May 12, 2013 at 11:16 AM]

So, if you are at an ATM you have no expectation of privacy of tapping in your pin number? If you’re at the checkout counter, you have have no expectation of privacy of wielding your credit card? If you’re at the bank you have no expectation of privacy of writing out your bank account number on the deposit slip?

What is the magnification of these Google glasses? Do they have audio capability, and if so, how directional and to what distance can it pick up sound clearly? Is capturing my talk with a friend in a normal voice from 20 feet away, is that an invasion of privacy?

Dusty on May 12, 2013 at 1:04 PM

I’m waiting for the first person who causes a fatal car crash because they’re addicted to their Google glasses and are focused on the data instead of on the highway. I doubt all of Google’s support and financial donations to pet liberal causes are going to be enough to keep the trial lawyers at bay.

jon1979 on May 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Google Glass will do nothing that hundreds of million of other Android device out there do today. They are simply another form factor. They will be priced for ordinary folks to be able to afford them, like a tablet or mobile phone. You will be able to get them with prescription lenses so you can see properly while wearing them without having to use contacts. They are more subtle than a video camera, but then again so it a mobile phone or a CCTV camera. Nobody wants to be filmed without their consent, but that’s life. If you don’t want people filming your ATM or your credit card, shield it from other people’s view. That’s personal security 101. Remember, if a camera on a person’s eye can see it, the person’s eye can see it. I’d be more concerned with the camera on their shoe for looking up your kilt.

Immolate on May 12, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Remember, if a camera on a person’s eye can see it, the person’s eye can see it. I’d be more concerned with the camera on their shoe for looking up your kilt.

[Immolate on May 12, 2013 at 1:33 PM]

That’s BS and you ought to know it but you aren’t thinking it through. I can take out my credit card and wave it around and you’d not be able to read it. However, if I record you waving yours around with a movie camera, I can take it hone and run it frame by frame to read the numbers, write it down, check and recheck it.

All I need is one good frame of, what, a 1/10th of a second of clear picture?

Dusty on May 12, 2013 at 2:41 PM