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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

According to Wikipedia: "UK laws on defamation are among the strictest in the western world."

Chatting away with Google Glass

In short: the ability of everybody to record everything everybody else says might make life a little different in the UK. We all break those laws in everyday speech, all of us, all the time. The only thing keeping us all out of court is the fact that most of us can't be bothered to get all 'legal' about it, and we'd have difficulty proving what was said.

Glass could certainly change that second part, and courts will come under pressure to change the first. So at some point here governments will have to get involved. Either the laws have to change (which might not be a bad thing), or Google has to change its products. Or governments can prevent them coming to market. This final option isn't as far-fetched as it sounds.

Google and the EU have been involved in privacy for a long time. Take this Reuters story from 18 Feb: "Google last year consolidated 60 privacy policies into one, combining data collected on individual users across its services, including YouTube, Gmail and social network Google+. Users cannot opt out."

And governments do have sweeping powers, as many a company finds out. In 2008 the European Union fined Microsoft 899 million. No matter how big a company is, the democratically elected governments are bigger. Last year Google was ordered to delete all WiFi data it collected from Street Cars in the UK. Google is still not allowed to operate Street View in many countries, and was forced to implement number plate and face blurring technology in many other countries.

The privacy concerns from Google Glass are likely to be much more pressing than Street View, and Google will face serious legislative opposition if Glass usage becomes widespread.

Apple iGlass and social media

There's opportunity here for Apple. The Cupertino-based company is famously reticent about social media. Perhaps this is because the company, and by extension its employees, tend to be secretive. Social media is a big no-no for Apple employees. And there's no official Twitter or Facebook account for Apple (although iBookstore does have a Twitter account).

Until now Apple's lack of social media expertise has always seemed to be an Achilles heel for the company. Everybody laughed at Ping compared to Twitter. And FindMyFriends is hardly Facebook. Maybe Apple doesn't get social media, maybe it just doesn't care. Maybe it decided long ago that being out of the social media game was worth more to it than being in. It certainly hasn't stopped it selling iPhones and becoming the richest company on Earth.

 

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