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Seeing through Google’s rose coloured glass darkly

Rob Livingstone | June 14, 2013
Your organisation may have been worried about shadow IT before, but Google Glass will put it on steroids

Companies like Google, Apple and Facebook have become our digital landlords. They hold commanding positions when it comes to reshaping the landscape in which citizens lead their lives. The problem is, their global reach and influence is challenging governments, regulators and those wanting to stop and think about whether there are any negatives associated with new technology.

The emergence of a product like Google Glass which potentially represents a massive invasion of privacy by redefining the public and private realms could tip regulators into a new era of technology-prohibition. If regulation of cloud was an issue, wearable consumer technologies are a real game changer.

However, history has shown that prohibition nearly always fails. Just look at the failure that was the national ban on the sale, production and transportation of alcohol in the US in the 1920s, and the war on drugs seems never ending.

In our instantaneous, digitally connected and globalised world, borders are increasingly porous. This is a serious challenge for those who want to curb the use of certain kinds of technology, especially relatively cheap gadgets with near universal appeal.

There are already some laws in place that would curb unauthorised photography and video recordings by Google Glass, such as theSurveillance Devices Act 2004 (Australia) that prohibits recording a private conversation without the consent of the parties involved. But that doesn't mean people won't try to get away with it.

There is also a risk that Google Glass could be hacked. The IT security landscape is a complex melee of players such as cybercriminals, hackers, cloud computing vendors and information security vendors.

The perpetual arms race between the vendors supported by specialist IT security companies and the army of cybercriminals appears never ending. It should be noted that Google is now inviting users to hack its product, a cost effective way of getting others to test the product's security capabilities.

As technology developers and marketers increase their share of your (and your organisation's) digital footprint - that indelible record of your every interaction in the electronic world containing your consumer spending and other online behaviours - ultimately, the only way you can ensure your privacy is protected is to be as informed as possible.

The chances of individuals, organisations and regulators alike, being able to keep up to date with the digital revolution, in a world as fast moving as this one, is quite another matter.

Anyone playing a part in the ICT industry should part to play in ensuring that technology is of value to others, as well as our organisations -- that's called having an influence.

 

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