Let the stalking begin; privacy issues arise with Google Glass

Attempting to spy in the student union.

By Phil Ruddle | Staff Writer

Last week the Chronicle published a feature about an upcoming new era to technology called Google Glass.

If you missed it, you can find part one at coyotechronicle.net.

In last week’s issue, we learned all about Glass and its features as they are computerized glasses that can take pictures, record video, give you directions and translate foreign languages.

However, the issue of privacy arises when you snap a picture or record someone in public without their permission.

There is no LED light in the front of the device that is blinking or making any indication of telling anybody that its recording.

The product is in its early stage, so it will be rare to see it on the streets right now, but just wait until this device goes mainstream and a lot of people get their hands on it.

Basically, just imagine people wearing these going into public areas such as restrooms or theaters.

Does this sound like a potential problem?

Could this possibly be the ultimate spy device? James Bond? Ethan Hunt?

It has been referred to in the media as “the ultimate creepy stalker toy,” “the end of privacy” and “an evil device.”

Slate.com technology writer Will Oremus explains that its easy to see why people think Glass is unethical to privacy, and more so if you have never actually used the device.

Oremus has spoken to privacy experts of Google to which he concluded that Google Glass is a “terrible spy tool.”

Right now the product isn’t mainstream, it’s rare, so basically it’s noticeable.

Oremus explains that when testing the product, heads turned, eyes squinted, people got confused and others went into excitement.

Spying with this product may not work so well right now as the default way to activate the device is by voice recognition.

If your cover wasn’t blown with your geeky looking glasses then maybe it would have been with your voice commands.

Less obtrusive ways with the device could be done by jerking your head skyward to activate the device, then instantly putting your gaze back to its original stance. Or you can Click the default to locate the button on the frame of the device to take a picture or hold it down to record.

You can’t be too far from your subject, Glass’ camera does not zoom in and the battery is also only sufficient enough to record for about half an hour with 12 gigabytes of memory.

The device doesn’t sound as great as Google is making it to be.

Compared to the iPhone that lasts all day, the Glass’ can secretly record sounds from your pocket.

Thad Starner, wearable-computing pioneer and computer science professor at Georgia Teche, makes Smartphones that are more effective as surveillance tools than Glass will ever be.

Starner explains that after working with Google on the Glass project since the early design stages, “Privacy has been the goal from the start and the team-intentionally built in social cues like the glow of the video screen to alert people that the device is active.”

You could always customize your Glass illegally or make your own Glass device that syncs up to your jail broken Smartphone as others have already done and broadcast over the net.

A true techie could transform Glass into a good spy camera as hackers everywhere already were part of the Glass Explorer beta tests.

It’s noted by Oremus that someone rooted Glass so the screen would stay off while it’s recording while another made an app that lets you snap a picture with a wink.

This is why Google launched the Explorers program first instead of releasing the product on shelves to the public as they wanted to know the loopholes thoroughly as possible so they could prevent them upon release.

Unfortunately there has been a lot of talk about this being the end of privacy that could cause everyone to go against the device as even businesses want to ban them from their premises.

You would think society will keen on cues that alert us when someone is recording using Glass, the same way we are cautious when someone holds their Smartphone with the lens pointed in our direction.

Jerking your head, speaking to yourself, or pinching the frame of Glass will probably cause some attention.

Nether the less, we should all realize that serious privacy threats will most likely be un-viewable to sight completely as the real privacy criminal stalkers will be spying on us nearby with their hidden equipment stashed away in somewhere on their body, clothes, bags or everywhere else other than your face.

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