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back to article Congress asks Google to explain Glass privacy policies

The pilot phase of Google Glass is barely off the ground, but the Chocolate Factory's high-tech specs have already drawn the scrutiny of the US Congress over concerns that they could infringe individual privacy. In a letter addressed to Google CEO Larry Page, eight members of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus called …

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Bronze badge
Meh

"Would Google place limits on the technology and what type of information it can reveal about another person?"

So apparently, Congress isn't concerned about the gathering of information, just the revealing of it? I see Google glass going as far as recording images of every person you see, and when you see Jim at the bar, and say "Hello Jim, how are you", Glass tags the name "Jim" to that photo. If Google Glass didn't have plans to do that and many other types of data gathering, how exactly would it "reveal" anything new, or better yet, anything that only Google has, and not the competitors?

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Re: What type of information it can reveal about another person?

Presumably that would be any information that the person in question had made public.

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Re: What type of information it can reveal about another person?

Crisp, right, but that is the way it is supposed to be currently, but it most certainly is not. Congress appears to be under the impression that the future of these devices needs attention, but the current state of privacy doesn't. Google doesn't need new laws stopping it from collecting data, the current ones already give them all they will ever need. This issue seems to be a 3 card monte, with the private citizens as the mark.

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Anonymous Coward

Pfft!

It's not going to reveal much to you, unless you're a premium subscriber (aka an advertiser)

It'll reveal whatever is deemed sufficient to keep people using them and not care about the info they're handing over to Google about not only themselves but every they come into some form of contact with.

I already dread the endless request I'll have to make to people: "Please point your spy-glasses towards someone not me, and please leave them at the door if you plan to visit"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pfft!

I already dread the endless request I'll have to make to people: "Please point your spy-glasses towards someone not me, and please leave them at the door if you plan to visit"

"Google Glasses off, or Google Glasses busted. Your choice"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pfft!

and at some point you will meet someone with the this or similar hardware permanently mounted in their head, perhaps to compensate for being otherwise blind/deaf/etc. At which point your reasonable desire for privacy, and the issue of disability discrimination, are going to collide rather unhappily.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pfft!

I reject that proposition outright.

It'd be the bankruptcy of modern health care, the day that you are only able to get vision-restoring surgery (or whatever we'll call it), if you also get Google+ (or similar) integrated cameras and microphones mounted in your skull.

I don't think the internet connection is required for the cameras to be able to pick up images - that can then be sent to the brain for processing. Hell throw in a USB-stick in the frames and you should be able to store image without internet too.

The internet is there to make the HUD work fancily and to send data to Google for... processing.

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FAIL

Re: Pfft!

Well then it should aid the disability and no more. If it takes pictures there's no fucking way on god's earth it's coming into my house to photograph my son.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If it takes pictures ... its [not] coming into my house to photograph my son.

"Sorry, dad, either get those things surgically removed, or you're not seeing your grandson ever again.

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Childcatcher

Paraphrasing Google's chairman ...

If you don't want sex-starved glassholes perving on you in public, maybe you shouldn't be in public.

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I think it's the same as any other tech: it's all in the hands of the user. People will configure and use it in their individual ways, many of them doubtless unexpected. You're not going to prescribe, predict, or control that.

Actually, what Google should do (and probably will) is develop the platform, then FOSS it, Android-style. They're not really in the hardware business, they're certainly not in the shades business. It'll be 'Oakley - powered by Google'.

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Anonymous Coward

I think it's the same as any other tech: it's all in the hands of the user

Without rephrasing there is more truth in that sentence than you maybe realised :)

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Silver badge

Should be simple; or should it?

Doesn't the law already cover the use of concealed cameras and microphones? (except that Google Glass is a slightly disguised camera/microphone).

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Meh

Re: Should be simple; or should it?

Yes the new rules state that anyone using Google Glass will be required to paint their skin green, wear a orange pointy hat and yellow fluorescent jacket with the words 'I'm watching you' printed in large letters front and back.

They will also be required to get a signed disclaimer from anyone they tag in the street.

Privacy sorted.

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Happy

If it's important to you...

..there is one way to protect your privacy - don't buy 'em.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If it's important to you...

Yes but if privacy is important to me, how do I stop myself being tagged by others?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If it's important to you...

I have bad news for you… People don't need to wear those to tag you.

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Thumb Down

Buy 'em all you want

If you're daft enough - or vain enough - to think that the world is an infinitely better place because you've recorded all your daily doings, you're probably beyond hope or redemption.

On the other hand, there are those of us already disturbed by the huge amount of video surveillance already around the place, who would like to be able to go about our lawful business without being snooped or recorded.

Perhaps the required protection is that citizens carry some sort of reality distorter: say, half a brick or a spray can of black paint?

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Facepalm

Won't someone think of the children?

It is weird how everything Google Glass can do could be done years ago by smartphones, and even more discreetly if using hidden cameras, and yet it is today that people start wringing their hands…

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Happy

Re: Won't someone think of the children?

The difference in devices is not important.

The difference is the scale at which it happens. It will be more passive, and more widespread than ever.

Am I worried? Yes, but I'm not sure what of. This is definitely going to change the world, but I can't see in which ways. And that has me worried.

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Silver badge

Re: Won't someone think of the children?

I don't think it will scale. It will be popular with the Segway & Bluetooth Headset crowd but I don't see it going much further. I'm still trying to figure out what it is good for. The one guy at my office who is excited about it gets excited about every new shiny thing. I think those types of people will be the market.

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Silver badge

The augmented reality display could be fun and even useful

But the privacy side is alarming when you deal on it.

Watching a pirate movie? The glasses know when and where you did that.

Watching a jazz movie? They were watching it too, and gave next years Prenda-like lawyers a call.

Discussing your love life? The glasses know you might need cock pills.

Want to find Lord Lucan? Crowdsource the hunt.

It all starts getting creepier the more I think about it

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The augmented reality display could be fun and even useful

Which of these cannot be done by your smartphone already? It has a camera, several microphones, and a GPS. How come you still dare talk with your wife without hiding under several blankets? They could be watching you!

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Anonymous Coward

Some suggestions

- the glasses should flash a red LED when video is being recorded, or photographs taken

- a barcode should be agreed on, which whenever seen by the camera will disable it for five minutes

- an international symbol should be agreed on, which means "no recording devices permitted on premises"

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Re: Some suggestions

An international symbol... How about those signs that have the camera in a red circle with a red line across it.

Besides if you actually enforce 'no recording devices' you won't be able to use your phone...

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WTF?

Look at Me!

I could understand if Google Glass filmed the wearer and posted the images on-line in "Look at Me!" sycophantic manner, but why go around filming everyone else? I really don't get the point.

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Baaad google

The general street surveillance I think is justified. Or at least it does not intrude on your private life, even Google's street view was just about acceptable and there was some use in it for everyone. But this is completely different. With the street surveillance you knew they won't generally release the videos or pictures for anything other than crimes or suspects.

With the amount of microphones and cameras for commercial use this is going to be a nightmare. In most countries you can capture video and sound on the street, but you can not use it without a release from the person in the frame. Not only that, google will also gain information about your private life, that is - anything happening behind the closed doors. Where is the guarantee they won't record everything said even when the device in question is turned off? All of the dictatorship regimes got it wrong by delegating data gathering to government structures. Turns out private companies are way better at this, and they don't even need to do any work as the people do all of the work for them!

Once again, google, I'm deeply disappointed in you.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Are congress stupid, or just paid to ask these questions

as the answer is quite clearly.

That smartphone in your pocket, be it Android or iOS can record anything you want anywhere you want. Google Glass is no different except you don't need to take it out your pocket...

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Happy

Re: Are congress stupid, or just paid to ask these questions

"Google Glass is no different except you don't need to take it out your pocket"

Which is a pretty big difference. At least you have a pretty good idea if someone is taking pictures of you with their phone. With glass, you'll have to assume that you're being recorded at all times.

Is that the kind of world we want to live in? I'm not so sure.

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Facepalm

People forget the key point here ...

You can't be in public these days without being tracked / recorded in some way.

Cameras are everywhere, from CCTV to traffic cams to god knows what.

If you don't like being recorded / tracked, don't go out in public, live in a concrete box and buy anything, never talk to anyone or have any form of contact with anyone, never have a credit card, bank account, oh and a birth certificate so you can't be born either, and you can't have a job because that ties your earnings to nationally trackable social security / national insurance number.

Face it, its the world we live in, Google are simply making that point totally clear.

I like the idea of Google Glass but it needs some good applications, I think the government are just being a pain in the ass because they know Google are better at data gathering than they are and rather than admit it they will come up with some legal reason to get the full details of how this technology works and then give it to some shady part of the government.

Think about scenarios where your part of a forum or group with special interests, or "i'm lost where are you".

So even if Google get told no ... this is going to happen!

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Unhappy

Re: People forget the key point here ...

I hate to support such a bleak view as yours but you are correct. Any privacy we currently have is only there because large corporations don't like to share too much between themselves. Unless you deal solely in cash (doable but inconvenient) don't use the Internet or have a mobile phone or a drivers license (or at least not buying age restricted products) you're being observed.

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

Minor differences

I would have expected the readers here wouldn't compare private/state security surveillance with commercial data gathering used for advertising and social networks.

I wouldn't expect any mentally fit person to take the "whatever" stance to Google's (/Apple's/Microsoft's) privacy policies and then suggest/hint that anyone who thinks otherwise is paranoid, annoying and stupid.

No wonder all (three) mobile OSes today are utter crap.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Minor differences

I guess that must be the reason why smartphones are selling so badly…

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Meh

Re: Minor differences

Small differences aside all three major mobile OS give you global wireless voice capabilities, global wireless email and messaging capabilities, global wireless file access, support still and motion image capture and sound recording and it all fits in your pocket.

What pray tell would you have one of them do to make them not suck?

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@Don Jefe

Originally I wanted to write a list of thing I would like, but then I realized that what you said can also be done on Symbian S40. Do you consider those features to be 'smart'? I love these arguments. "YOU CAN TALK TO A PERSON WHO IS 1000KM AWAY, HOW DARE YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT THIS MAGIC".

So yeah, I would like them to do something that Belle, Harmattan or Windows Mobile couldn't do (hardware features aside, naturally, because hardware has advanced unlike OSes). Cloud storage is probably the only thing, which would be good if it wasn't often shoved down user's throat.

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Re: @Don Jefe

No, they certainly aren't smart but even the S40 is far above the level of 'suck'.

Maybe a self defense mechanism (phone + taser = phaser!) in a phone would be nice but I really don't know how much more a phone can be expected to do. Their core functions are completely dependent on external technologies and infrastructure and until those things advance significantly any improvements in phones are limited to incremental improvements (longer battery life, higher resolution displays, stronger & lighter materials, etc...)

Personally I would like phones to come with a built in FM tuner and multimeter.

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Re: @Don Jefe

Ah, then I should have specified that they are "utter crap" in the sense that the number of things you can do in them (without jailbreaking or rooting) is getting lower or stagnating. So while I agree that S40 is far above the level of suck (I might even like it the most of the OSes today), I also have to point out that when I compare WP8 to WM5/6, there is a massive step backwards in every aspect except maybe UI. When I compare Android to Maemo or Harmattan, there is stagnation. The only thing that has advanced (beside hardware) is marketing and "app" stores. There is still incredible room for making all of the three OSes incomparably more advance than what they are now without any hardware improvement. I personally don't need higher resolution display or lighter materials... ~300 ppi is more than enough and I like to have my device to have some weight, but of curse, that's personal preference. What I really could use is IR.

FM tuner (and transmitter) is in 6(4) years old phones I use, as is IR... I try not to think about it.

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Anonymous Coward

And think of the kids ..

Anyone who enters a private home with Google Glasses could in principle fall foul of child protection laws. If that thing is always on, pretty soon you will have amassed enough kid imagery for plod to ask questions.

We thus get a sort of Darwinian selection: wear GGs, get busted. That's inadvertedly such a *perfect* solution to get idiots off the street they should patent it..

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WTF?

Re: And think of the kids ..

You're working on the assumption that GG is used purely to record and keep everything the wearer sees?

My understanding is that GG would do things like use facial regonition to overlay a persons current facebook status on your world, yes GG could be used to record in that fashion.

So does leaving a smart phone on in a stand on charge overnight apply the same ruling if it's borrowed by someone under age?

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Re: And think of the kids ..

Serious question: If you are looking at someone through GG wouldn't that persons status be 'right in front of you'? What non-creepy information are you going to glean about that person that you can't get from simply talking to them?

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Aww, privacy not eroding fast enough for you?

"old institutions, like the law" weren't keeping up with the pace of [s/war/tech].

I wonder how many dictators shared this sentiment.

And talk about selling one's eyeballs to advertisers.

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Bronze badge
Headmaster

Privacy rights

Here in the States this is, to the best of my knowledge, fairly settled law. If you are someplace where you expect people will see you, you HAVE no inherent right to privacy. In the past, courts have ruled that the documentary value of public photography outweighs individual privacy rights. To decide otherwise would mean that photographers shooting a public event would need to get signed releases from every person at the event; or shooting at the scene of a crime would require sign-off by the perpetrator on any photographs taken of him at the scene.

The exception to the "public places" rule comes if you go into an area where one normally WOULD have an expectation of privacy. You could, for example, take photographs of anyone on the sales floor in a clothing store (with the owner's permission, of curse, since this is private property), since this is not a place where a person could have a reasonable expectation of not being seen. You would NOT, however, be able to take photographs in the dressing rooms, since THERE, a person COULD reasonably have an expectation of privacy.

The short version, then, is that you would likely have no legal right to stop someone from looking at you or photographing you while they are wearing GoogleGoggles on the street or in a public park, or in any place where the property owner does not prohibit it, but the Glasses would have to be removed/disabled if the property owner required it or the wearer went into a place where a reasonable expectation of privacy would exist -- e.g. even if your local pub allowed them, you'd STILL have to take them off or turn them off when you went into the Gents'.

Downloadable capsule summaries of photographers' rights -- which should also cover wearers of GoogleGoggles -- for the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia are available at: http://digital-photography-school.com/photographers-rights-and-photography-privacy-advice

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Bronze badge

You know that this is a Google Trojan, right?

You know that this is a Google Trojan, right? It stands a good chance of raking in BILLONS for Google

On several fronts, this is Google shafting ms, Apple, and a slew of other companies and map makers and vacation/tour/travel agencies/sites.

-- With these glasses, now Google can SUPER enhance Google Maps. Now, instead of talking to Google Maps and asking about nearby sites to see, GG can overlay the most highly rated or most underrated nearby sites an even use arrows to guide the turn-by-turn-on-foot navigation

-- Users visiting World Heritage Sites/Treasures can get live, customized tour guides for an extra fee

-- Museums and libraries might be able to piggy back on the service and pick up some extra foot traffic and even funding

-- Law Enforcement agencies can have stylish tactical and beat/patrol tools, with the glasses offering instant facial recognition to find stool pigeions, ummm, CIs (Confidential Informants), and even overlay the visuals of what nearby officers see. If cops are in a firefight, their own POV can be overlaid to offer subsequent responders (copos, fire fighters, paramedics, FBI, etc) a better picture of which officers are down, which are low on ammo, what innocent by-standers need extraction, etc.. Cops on warrants service can be live-fed legal cues, and watch commanders and agency attorneys can collectively ensure that servers knock on and knock down the correct doors, not the wrong ones

-- The military can do the above and more

-- Reactor and fracking plants and power plant employees can use them to facilitate inspection and live feeds of plant conditions

-- Families and travelers can take periodic snapshots of what is going on around them, for posterity

-- Parole boards, probation courts, and even insurance companies can use these to lower premiums and to watch over people/insured

So long as the public do not abuse place such as Costco, Whole Foods, museums, government benefits issuance buildings, secured federal buildings, etc, Congress may not need to lay down reiterated, draconian rules/restrictions/laws.

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Re: You know that this is a Google Trojan, right?

Except for the enhancement of existing Google products all those things have already been done & were incredibly unpopular and at no point was any of it 'stylish'.

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Bronze badge

Now, Vegas casinos intend to ban GG.

http://www.latinospost.com/articles/19447/20130518/google-glass-privacy-concerns-raised-congress-questions-asked-larry-page.htm

I bed Disney will be next, since GG might capture ride crash incidents more readily than ordinary cameras and camcorders might.

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