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back to article Congress: It's not the Glass that's scary - It's the GOOGLE

Google Glass is wrapped around the faces of only a few thousand people right now. The company says the device is in very early beta mode. And yet lawmakers in the US have already pounced on the company demanding answers about how the privacy of netizens using the gizmo will be protected. But it would seem that Congress has …

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Pint

The US Government is grilling Google about privacy.

bahahahahahahahaha. Brilliant humour for a Friday.

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Big Brother

I'm interested in what, exactly, these things represent that is such a terror, in terms of what isn't already being done.

Location tracking? Got a smart-phone, you can already be tracked.

Spending habits? Google gets a much better picture of that from what you do online now.

Invasion of other citizens' privacy? I can already whip out my smart-phone or HD digital camcorder and record you all I want, legally. I suppose there is a certain inherent stealth in the technology, but seriously, if I wanted to record you walking into M&S without you knowing, I could do that right now.

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Big Brother

Stalkiness factor

Yeah but you can't record me without looking like a great stalky creep, pointing your phone at me while the screen illuminates your face like a pantomime villain.

Wear Google Glass and it's a very different social proposition.

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Happy

Well...

A better example would be you recording me walking into M&S without me knowing... then when I get home and start using my PC/tablet/whatever to read The Register, I get lots of pop-up ads telling me the great deals on lingerie I missed in M&S today, and how I might like to visit the pizza restaurant you went to after you filmed me in M&S.

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Re: Stalkiness factor

I'm a bit torn on this.

It's very easy to record someone secretly. How do you think private investigators do it? The technology has been available for many years and is incredibly cheap now. If you want to secretly record someone, without them knowing, you can.

Now, have you seen someone wearing Glass? It's not exactly invisible, and is not really a hidden camera.

I believe that the issue is going to come more from accidental situations. e.g. Say you're sitting on a park bench reading a book with Glass on and hear a surprising noise. You look up and see that a child has made it. I'd imagine that if the parent sees you looking at their child with Glass on, they will get very defensive, as they don't know if you're recording their child in a creepy way or not.

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Re: Stalkiness factor

@Argh

It will be invisible when the novelty wears off and Google starts building it into more traditional-looking specs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stalkiness factor

Yes, it is easy to currently record someone secretly.

But how do think the person/society being filmed/snapped would react if they discover that fact? Not very well I'd imagine (I be frickin' livid)

With GG the perception now is that you will always be recorded - that is the issue.

There's no secrecy behind it and all of Google's statements mean nothing to the layman.

It's the same as me walking around with a video camera strapped to my head. People see the camera - the fact it may not be recording is irrelevant.

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Anonymous Coward

Letter from Larry...

"I'm interested in what, exactly, these things represent that is such a terror"...

In a word, its *Reach* Neil-B! .... Glass is upping the ante piece by chess-piece. With each new tool we widen our reach targeting every demographic in every country. North Korea is next!

Reg'rs often comment how they're off the Google-Grid. They don't use Gmail, Google+ and use Yahoo versus our search engine. Others use AdBlock & NoScript too for privacy. And so you think you're protected. Sure, stick your head in the sand! But ask yourself, what about THE-OTHER-GUY?

You can't stop others using Glass, Gmail, Google search... Your friends, your family, your lovers, or just a date... Ever replied to questions from a date about your life, later realizing that was sent to a @gmail.com address. Thank you! Your Google returns have been Filed! Remember, there's no regulation because we have easy access to No 10! So, your data is only limited by our imagination!

So you see, we can build up a profile of you FROM OTHERS! We don't really need you! We can use their contacts, their emails, their interests, their demographics, to gauge you. Such is the power of Behavioural Analysis. Plus, if you ever had a YouTube or gmail account even for a day before killing it, we can still keep a ghost profile on you as our data retention policy is more opaque than the IRS Tax code. And checking in with anyone with a gmail account later also gives us an update about you.

But really, why is that such a bad thing for you? Its because Google is a media company masquerading as a tech company. Here at Google, we are in the Data-Collection business. Our ambition is to prostitute your data to anybody who'll pay us, promising them quality data on everybody! We are the Stasi of Advertisers! And we don't see anything wrong with that, because we're just two naive guys, who don't do evil. But if look at the Reg articles on Android patent wars you'll see we're not as smart as we like to think we are! We're just lucky!

Perhaps one day in the future after more lobbying, we'll strategically share our databases with Facebook for mutual benefit. Then you'll all be totally as Zuck likes to say our bitches-- BITCHES!

What's that? You want to know about Google's Taxes? Erm, *couch*, *couch*, Er, I think I'm starting to lose my voice!! No-- really, its true!!!

/Larry

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Anonymous Coward

"Spending habits? Google gets a much better picture of that from what you do online now."

Again, complete bullshite!

You can prevent this, there are lots of ways to do so.

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Happy

Re: Letter from Larry...

What's that? You want to know about Google's Taxes? Erm, *couch*, *couch*, Er, I think I'm starting to lose my voice!! No-- really, its true!!!

May I suggest looking between the sofa cushions?

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Coat

"You can prevent this, there are lots of ways to do so."

Please, by all mean share the "lots of ways..." that you claim to know.

Or do you expect us to just Google it?

Mines the one with the high intensity IR emitters all over it and the matching cap.

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How about this scenario.

You go out window shopping and check the prices of a few items on your google glasses. Then you see something that absolutely matches what you want, but it's out of your price range by a couple of hundred quid so you don't even bother looking for prices. So you go home empty handed.

While surfing the internet later, you get a voucher through from another company with a 10% discount if you buy what you were looking at in the next 2 hours, this brings the price of it down to only 50 quid over your budget.

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I would assume it would have some little light that popped on or something so people knew it was recording?

I still don't see the difference between it and a Smartphone tbh, if anything its more invasive to the person wearing it, but they obviously are OK with that since they bought it presumably.

If a person wearing it films me walking into a shop it isn't going to inherently know who I am, my google account info etc... so that it can fling ads at me, it'll know who the person filming it is but it wouldn't know who I am without some sort of facial recognition and if it that is available it would also work on phones / tablets recording too one would assume.

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Silver badge

"If a person wearing it films me walking into a shop it isn't going to inherently know who I am, my google account info etc"

It MIGHT. One of Google's projects involves face recognition. If Google analyzes the video and recognizes your face, BAM.

The big concern is COVERT recording, and that horse has already bolted. Sure, they tried to make camera phones click when they're used but the pervos (who slip the things into their SHOES, no less) just switch to video recording which can't give any audible clues (or it would spoil the recording). I'm pretty sure a sophisticated pervo would make Bluetooth camera shades...oh wait, they already have them (http://www.lightinthebox.com/Sunglasses-with-4GB-MP3-Player-with-camera-video-Bluetooth-Black-HF139-_p110137.html), with twice the memory of Spider Jerusalem's signature Live Shades, too.

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"The big concern is COVERT recording, and that horse has already bolted."

I'm not sure that that's correct. It seems to me that the real concern is *ubiquitous* recording - as promytius points out, our society is built upon certain assumptions, which ubiquitous recording coupled with Internet dissemination would shatter.

How do you buy somebody a surprise present, when footage of you buying it is going to pop up in their rss (or whatever) feed? Now consider going to the clap clinic, the oncologist, the local nick to whistleblow on some criminal who knows where you live, or no end of other activities.

David Brin has published utopian visions of "the recorded life", see any amount of dystopian SF for a counterpoint.

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No LED

There is no recording LED light at least not on the current Explorer edition.

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Silver badge

It seems to me that the real concern is *ubiquitous* recording

That horse has bolted as well.

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"I would assume it would have some little light that popped on or something so people knew it was recording?"

Didn't you hear? It's totally rootable. So, no.

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Anonymous Coward

"It MIGHT. One of Google's projects involves face recognition. If Google analyzes the video and recognizes your face, BAM."

The image taken from tagged photos on social media. I dont use any form of social media because i'm not a complete fuckwit. Of course that can't be said of "our" kids.

Good luck matching my image.

Of course I've already patented a way to prevent a camera from taking my image! That's the next big market.

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Silver badge

YOU may stay away from Facebook and the like, but what about *everyone you know*? Unless you're a complete hermit, SOMEONE knows you. And if that someone took a picture of you and then posted it somewhere on a social network, then a trace on you has been established. As more pictures of you emerge, it becomes possible to identify you from a stranger's photo.

As for your supposed tech, someone will just come up with a way to block your blocker. And no, not even the paper bag technique will likely work (if you can walk the streets with a paper bag, someone else will just show up with a leaf blower).

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Thumb Up

Gait Recognition

Brown Paper Bag is irrelevant given so many different ways to identify someone. Gait Recognition, Ear Recognition, Full Body Biometrics to name just 3.

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www.lightinthebox.com/Sunglasses-with-4GB-MP3-Player- ...

Not really covert unless your hair is long enough to cover the earphones/microphones and control unit on the arms of these shades. I suppose you could wear a (badly fitting, blonde) wig to conceal these?

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Black Helicopters

At least they're now honest about it...

"There is what I call the creepy line. The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it."

I think Google will also have no problems with possibly crossing said line either, in my opinion I think they're doing so anyway. The only problem is when they get caught. But then again, a company with a bank account of that magnitude will also have little problems coughing up any fines which the authorities can dish out.

Even so, I actually prefer this attitude than the previous one of "do no evil", one which has often been proven to be bogus. At least they're honest about it.

So the bottom line is simple; if you care for your privacy, if you can sometimes extend that care into a "paranoid bordering opinion" then its best to avoid Google, which means also not to consider getting a Google Glass. Its perfectly doable too; I don't got an Android smartphone, I don't use gmail or any other of their services. The only thing I do sporadically use is their search engine, and their webmaster tools.

"We have been warned".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At least they're now honest about it...

" I don't got an Android smartphone" you can tell. Looks like iOS has failed you!

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FAIL

I got it wrong - again

Oh, and I thought it was just M-O-N-E-Y talking...

Apparently it's not Big Brother we have to worry about, It's Big Google.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Data Mining

Anyone who thinks that "Google Glass would be a lot less scary if the device was sold by a consumer goods company" really doesn't have a clue about how companies do business.

The concept that a "consumer goods company" would use personal data in a more benign manner than Google, is about as raving mad as you can get.

For example, the last time I purchased a Sony product, the guarantee registration form had several pages of general questions that were designed solely to harvest data that could be sold to marketing agencies.

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Big Brother

isn't it also...

We simply have a right to live our normal lives with an intentional and presumed anonymity that includes the freedom of self-expression in private, whether that 'private' moment is a controlled one or a spontaneous one. It is about preservation of the privacy of existence. If you see me where you are, that is a natural occurrence; if you record and distribute an image or a video or audio file of that that is unnatural and unethical on several levels. The simple fact that you can already do this makes it no less reprehensible and wrong. The bigger issue is that if you give up your natural right to privacy even in a social situation, you will erode what little personal freedoms are now left to us, and eventually you will have none and the slavery will be complete. There is nothing wrong with taking an image, a video, of ANYTHING; it is what you do with it after that makes trouble. Keep it for yourself, and that's fine; share it, sell it, market it, record it, attach consequences, obligations to it, make it now valuable data for others to possess, for others to market to you with, then that is immoral and should be illegal - the problem is the very people who would decide if it was legal or illegal WANT it legal! If the people don;t stop this, the only result is slavery.

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Bronze badge

see and be seen - not optional

Neal Stephenson got it in 1995 about not being able to skip the ads:

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/05/01/google_glass_security_nightmare/#c_1811535

But George Orwell was unimaginative, thinking we could only be spied 24/7 on from wall mounted cameras.

When it'll be done with HUMAN mounted cameras!

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If you're worried about Google invading your privacy, don't use Google products. If you want access to Google services, you can play by their rules or go to a different provider. Don't like the way they do business? Then don't do business with them.

Sorry, is that too obvious?

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Anonymous Coward

"If you're worried about Google invading your privacy, don't use Google products."

...If that wasn't so naive I'd laugh!

There isn't a single person on here that can tell whether Google Analytics data is fed into their Ad engine! Do you have any idea how many sites use Google Analytics? If you interact with anyone that has a gmail account then you are interacting with Google like it or not! The contents of those emails (anonymized or not) are sold to companies via Ad auctions and Ad brokers. We are learning on a daily basis, that anonymization is a big privacy joke!

Google is in the Data Collection business! They are a media company masquerading as a tech company. They will happily sell your data to anybody who'll pay. In essence your data is only limited by their imagination!

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Anonymous Coward

Google Analytics

And that's why I refuse to permit google analytics scripts to fire on my home system.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Google Analytics

But there are also googleapis and googlemaps and ...

Increasingly, you cannot opt out of Google without opting out of the Web altogether.

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Anonymous Coward

Dan11111111 - you're out of touch

honestly, mate. Just look under the bonnet, you will see. You navigate from any website that uses google analytics? You don't respond to anybody with a gmail address? You don't book a flight, you don't bank online, you don't do your taxes and shopping, because all of those businesses and organizations use - google api? Actually, not all of them, about 50%, from about 10% a few years back. And you never ever use google search engine, nosir.

p.s. how do you communicate online, when to send any comments, requests, questions, you need to fill in that little google puzzle? No puzzle, no comms.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google Analytics

"refuse to permit google analytics scripts to fire on my home system"

Great AC15:37 but NoScript / AdBlock etc is not always sufficient. What if your info is shipped off to Google by server side scripts to Google Analytics etc? There's also ETAGS and cached sessions and always nasty Flash cookies to consider...

http://www.adotas.com/2011/08/hulu-caught-respawning-cookies-as-etags-enter-tracking-fray/

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Google Analytics

"also googleapis and googlemaps..cannot opt out of Google without opting out of the Web"

Exactly Dr Paul!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "If you're worried about Google invading your privacy, don't use Google products."

"...There isn't a single person on here that can tell whether Google Analytics data is fed into their Ad engine! Do you have any idea how many sites use Google Analytics?..."

I guess you've never heard of Ghostery then?

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Re: Google Analytics

NoScript and Ad Block

All scripts are blocked unless explicitly allowed.

Scroogle as my search engine

Anyone got any more ideas how I can keep the (do no) evil empire out?

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Re: Google Analytics

NoScript - google APIs are blocked too

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Anonymous Coward

"I guess you've never heard of Ghostery then?'"

...You're making assumptions about add-ons & scripts, and assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups!

------------------------

A. Google Analytics & APIs can still be run server-side! Local script-blockers are insufficient!

B. In-browser Add-ons can't protect privacy if you ever email a @gmail.com address!

C. Cellphone / Tablet use has the fastest growth, but where are blocking tools for all BYOD?

D. Its been shown that Flash cookies can still sneak by even with in-browser filtering tools!

E. Tracking implemented using ETAGS (cached sessions) isn't always blocked either see link!

------------------------

http://www.adotas.com/2011/08/hulu-caught-respawning-cookies-as-etags-enter-tracking-fray/

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JDX
Gold badge

how the privacy of netizens USING the gizmo will be protected.

How is that an issue... it's just another Android device like your smartphone. The difference is surely about the privacy of those in FRONT of the glasses, not those BEHIND?

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WTF?

Crypto boffin Bruce Schneier recently endorsed a comment made by the Electronic Privacy Information Centre's founder Marc Rotenberg, who noted that Google Glass would be "a lot less scary" if the device was sold by a consumer goods company like Brookstone, rather than a creepy advertising mammoth.

If this is an accurate statement, both are idiots. I device is scary because of it's potential, and it has the same potential no matter who sells it. I would go so far as to say brookstone would BECOME as scary as good, just for virtue of selling this piece of kit.

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FAIL

Why the hand-ringing over Google when ...

most consumers have taken it in the shorts from Microsoft and Apple for decades, and still are?

Most, if not all, of this anti-Google clamor is being generated by Microsoft and Apple. Apple, the one who recorded your GPS tracks and uploaded them while complaining that Google's Street View vans are somehow being invasive by recording street photos and ESSIDs. Ignore the fact that the vans were going by each wireless so fast that the "opportunity" to steal private info is nill, unlike Apple's grab. And, what was Microsoft doing, besides using Google results underneath their Bing UI? Keeping Windows source code away from the public by claiming that because the government uses Windows its source should be a national secret. Then, a year later, gives the source to China, which made it a condition for Microsoft to be able to do business there.

Besides, hasn't anyone noticed that Microsoft and Apple CHARGE for their products and services, but Google gives most of them away for free and forces NO ONE to use them? Just try to go to about any retail computer vendor and buy a usable computer that doesn't have Windows 8 or iOS on it, pre-installed and nearly impossible to replace. Can you say monopoly, kiddies? Where is the outrage about that travesty? Has the BSA ever sent a team of police and lawyers to your house or business because you didn't use Google Search or Maps, or Docs or ....? That's why Microsoft and Apple are attacking Google so relentlessly, and calling in all political favors and using their bags of dirty tricks. Google, and Android, is eating their profit centers alive. BTW, where is the outrage over the fact that Microsoft is using their pile of money, lawyers and bogus DOS patents to extort "license fees" from smartphone OEMs who put Android on their devices? Android owns the smartphone market. IF it contains Microsoft "IP" then why didn't Microsoft use their own IP to produce a smartphone that was as good or better than Android?

And, is no one concerned that Microsoft created a team of digital terrorists, called "Technical Evangelists", trained by James Plamondon to invade comment sections, like this one, and talk-backs with pro-MS and anti-everyone else postings? And while you are at it, Google their "stacked panel" and "the slog", and the PDFs released after the Comes vs Microsoft trial. Their bag of tricks as revealed in that data will make you throw up.

IF I want to buy and wear Google's glasses and record everything I do and everywhere in public I go that is my business. Anyway, I can do that NOW with any smartphone and with dozens of devices that are not as obvious or are even invisible. Is it that you consider ignorance as bliss?

The Register used to brag about "biting the hand that feeds it", implying that they do not let ad revenues from corporations influence the articles the publish. I suspect that they have stopped biting certain corporations.

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Silver badge

Creepy is as creepy does.

"There is what I call the creepy line. The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it."

The problem is, that what the clearly sociopathic Schmidt thinks is "creepy" is one thing, and what a normal human being thinks is "creepy" is another matter entirely.

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Re: Creepy is as creepy does.

Well, to be fair, he never said from which direction they're approaching the line...

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@Steve Knox

"Well, to be fair, he never said from which direction they're approaching the line..."

True. Too true.

*sighs*

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That's why you want free software

The Android universe is not really free. It requires device specific changes, making it nearly impossible to have sustainable free Android distributions. Just look at Cyanogenmod. It's a great effort, but they cannot support more than a few models at a time.

What we would need is a common scalable hardware platform. Essential things like unaccelerated frame buffer access (and setup) should work the same on all devices, as well as hardware discovery. Just like on the PC. Every PC boots your operating system the same way, it'll have certain standard hardware, it'll have BIOS routines to access other hardware. It has ways to enumerate devices on the PCI bus.

Right now every ARM device boots differently. And when you are booted you have no idea of finding out what kind of SoC you are on. You cannot access your framebuffer, you cannot access your external Flash. Often you cannot even access a serial debug interface for help.

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Gold badge
Big Brother

Do you feel like you're being groomed?

Because you should.

Googleapi's invest web sites and you it's damm difficult to avoid them.

"It's "complimentary," it's not free.

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Black Helicopters

Where all this is headed

Watch Continuum.

'nough said.

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Meh

Genuinely curious

With all the controversy being generated around this device, Google must be rubbing their hands with glee as far as publicity goes. However I still fail to see the attraction for Glass - I personally couldn't think of anything more distracting. There's enough tech around me performing this function to varying degrees already.

If privacy is a concern, my observation is that these days it's mostly an academic one - regardless of what corporates or governments may say, your electronic presence has value to them - that's not going to change.

And as far as advertising goes, nothing Google, or any tracking/collating service on the interweb has served up to me (mostly unbidden) has peaked my curiosity to the point of further investigation - people reach people, not algorithms IMHO.

So, are these really game changers, or is the hype exceeding the reality - I'm genuinely curious.

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Sick of whining luddites...

There is a very simple way to avoid all of Google's alleged power: Don't use any of their products. Sure, you'll probably end up giving your data away to others if you don't first learn how to protect yourself, but then you can say you thwarted Google's attempt to take over your world.

Use Google one last time to help yourself. Search for browsing privacy.

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