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Google Glass has serious privacy issues; secretive Apple has a phenomenal edge

Mark Hattersley | Feb. 28, 2013
Who would you trust with a world of Glass technology? Google or Apple? We think the famously private company is a better steward of our eyes and ears

Who wants to give Google their eyes and ears?

What's perhaps more pressing isn't the public sharing of personal data, it's the tracking and back-end storing of personal details on Google servers. In many ways Google Glass could complete the circle of Google's aim to move seamlessly into everyday life

Quenty Hardy, writing for Forbes, says: "a little creepy, perhaps. Google wants to own your every waking minute online - at home, while in transit, at your workplace, wherever you happen to be." Rather ironically, when you type "Google Wants" into Google itself, it auto-completes the phrase "Google Wants to own your mind."

Google might not own your mind just yet, but it'll certainly keep track of your waking moments with Glass. From where you are, to what you see, hear, and say, share, Google will track it all. In terms of sensory interaction the only thing it won't have access to is what you taste and touch (can we mention this IBM 5 report of "Cognitive Systems" that are looking to bring taste and touch to future devices). A phone that can monitor taste sounds fairly ridiculous, but Glass a little less so.

Hardy points out: "Possible downside: You have to have complete and total faith in the company running the data repository. What if someone hacked in and got your tax return?"

Google's self stated mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". You might have reasonably thought that the world's information was stuff made by other people: 'books, video clips, newspaper articles, public websites, and so on. But the "world's information" also includes your life: what you like, where you go, who you hang out with, the things you say. And now, perhaps, the things you see and hear.

Some of the hyperbole is perhaps a little far-fetched. "Google Glasses may cause societal chaos" says Wahiman. But these are reasonable concerns.

The upside of social surveillance

Some changes might be positive. Peter Gabriel gave a TED Talk about fighting injustice with video. The idea that people can record video of injustice. He talked about a physical attack that took place when he was young, and compared it with the far more serious tortue that a Chilean lady told him about.

Gabriel says: "But the thing that really amazed me, that I had no idea, was that you could suffer in this way and then have your whole experience, your story, denied, buried and forgotten. And it seemed that whenever there was a camera around, or a video or film camera, it was a great deal harder to do - for those in power to bury the story."

 

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