By now you’ve probably heard of Google Glass, the device that looks like a cross between a headband and glasses — perhaps a little like Geordi La Forge’s VISOR, but a bit more discreet. Google Glass can perform a heap of tasks, such as taking pictures and video, showing email and text messages, giving weather updates, checking the status of a flight via voice command, and more.
The debate surrounding Google’s privacy policies has been heating up lately, and now there’s another reason for scrutiny. On July 4, filmmaker Chris Barrett, one of the first thousand non-developers to test Google Glass, was capturing footage of fireworks on the Jersey Shore when he recorded a fight and a subsequent arrest. In the video, you can see from a first-person perspective the entire scene as filmed by Barrett. And, of course, he uploaded the footage to YouTube, so we’re essentially all watching.
I can now definitively say the Jersey Shore holds no appeal for me.
Given that Google Glass is only available to a few select test users (sadly, they’re no longer accepting applications for testers, or what they call Glass Explorers on their site), this is the first arrest captured by the device. You might wonder why this is such a big deal — people record this kind of thing with smart phones all the time. The difference is that people can see you record something on your phone, and will likely kick your ass. Since Google Glass looks more like regular glasses (especially in the dark), people don’t know they’re being filmed. Among other things, Google Glass gives people the opportunity to snoop at will.
Lawmakers are already getting hot and bothered about the device. Las Vegas casinos are trying to ban the device (imagine how many people would run the tables if they had them) and West Virginia legislators are trying to ban its use while driving, which makes sense. The House Bipartisan Privacy Caucus also recently wrote an official letter to Google articulating their privacy concerns and asking for more information about how Google intends to handle them. Privacy regulators from Canada, Australia, and Europe did the same, asking Google how Glass conforms to data protection laws. Google responded, saying that while they’ll consider such feedback, they have no plans to change their privacy policies.
While Google Glass may rip the lid off an already open can of worms, there are some pretty cool uses for the video spying it enables. The Houston Zoo is using Google Glass to give people a behind-the-scenes look at animal caretaking. Video from the device will be uploaded onto the Zoo’s website, showing the workers’ perspective of interacting with the animals.
Since Google has vowed to block porn apps for the Glasses, we have to entertain ourselves somehow, right?