A major buzz has been building in the mainstream and social media over a technological device that is being developed by search giant Google called Google Glass, which is a wearable computer, with a head-mounted display in the form of eyeglasses.
The Google Glass eyeglasses will reportedly display information to a wearer in a smartphone-like format and will allow a user to interact with the Internet via voice commands.
However, as has been seen with other types of data collection, tracking technology, and proposed devices that interface with the human body, the capabilities of such computing instruments raise some serious issues involving personal privacy, Google Glass being no exception.
While various federal agencies, and companies such as Google and Facebook, continue in the pursuit of aggressively mining data using technology and the Internet, digital privacy rights groups are becoming more and more concerned, especially in light of the explosion in smartphone use and social networking on the part of the public.
When collected personal data are funneled through algorithmic software, the end results could so corrode personal privacy that even George Orwell might find the outcome shocking.
Not only can algorithmic calculations by current tracking software be used to indicate the location of individuals, they can also predict future locations with relatively high degrees of accuracy.
Forbes reports that software such as the kind described (developed by Raytheon) is being employed by federal agencies to assist in the targeting of suspected terrorists and the carrying out of drone attacks, the strategy of which is likewise currently mired in controversy.
A site has appeared on the Web called Stop The Cyborgs, which is intended to provide information regarding the growing privacy concerns surrounding Google Glass and additionally engender some resistance against what the site refers to as “the algorithmic future.”
Those behind the Stop the Cyborgs site are not revealing the names of individuals or groups that have contributed to the site’s content. However, the nondisclosure does not detract from the foremost issue that the site is highlighting; that being that Google Glass and similar technologies have the potential to invade people’s privacy, collect data, and act upon the information acquired, all without the individuals ever even knowing.
After referencing the vast reservoir of personal information that is being gathered by smartphones, online tracking, banking transactions, and cable television, the site describes its effort to “save humanity” from what it refers to as “the cyber collective.”
As is explained, Google’s upcoming eyewear is starkly different from the smartphones the public has come to know and love. Someone using a conventional smartphone must visibly hold the camera up to take a picture or to record video. This is not the case with Google Glass. In fact, there is no way of knowing whether you are being photographed or recorded by an individual who is donning the Google eyeglass device.
A person who is wearing the glasses could potentially record another person’s face and voice, employ facial and vocal recognition software, correlate the recordings with personal information, and even process responses through an advanced digital lie detector.
The site warns that these concerns “go beyond privacy.”
“There are serious consequences for human society,” the site states, adding that “there will no longer be any distinction between the ‘digital world’ and the ‘real world.’”