By Praveen Kannan and Anna Strokolyst The Hotspot Shield team believes the internet should be open and secure …
Even though Google Glass is still in ‘development’ stage—meaning that only developers have the option to purchase a pair (at the rich cost of $1,500) in order to create apps that will run on them—it’s only a matter of time before they are available for anyone to use.
Since the announcement of Google Glass, there have been a number of privacy concerns raised about this new technology. Even Congress has become involved in the discussion, having requested that Google’s founders address the obvious privacy issues.
Unfortunately, Google hasn’t responded to most of the privacy concerns about Google Glass, and those that they did address were relatively obscure at best. Generic statements such as, “Protecting the security and privacy of our users is one of our top priorities,” have become the norm from the search engine giant lately.
So what kinds of privacy concerns should you be aware of? Well, with its front-facing camera, heads-up display, and eye tracking software, just about anything you see can be monitored. Google Glass could even track your eye movements to determine the items that you seem to prefer or the people who interest you while you’re out in public.
Altogether, there are a number of privacy concerns with regards to Google Glass.
Google Glass Can Read Your Mind?
Each time you use a smart phone, you need to turn it on or unlock it in order to use it—for the most part. With an iPhone, for example, you have to slide a “button” to unlock the device, otherwise you won’t be able to access its apps or make calls.
Google Glass, on the other hand, is always on—always monitoring, measuring, and recording your online behavior. As a result, it’s the perfect gateway into your subconscious.
This gateway behavior stems from Glass’s ability to track your eye movements. You might not think that this kind of monitoring can provide a great deal of insight, but—in fact—your eyes can give away a lot of information about you: what you’re thinking, what you want, and whether you’re ashamed, happy to meet someone, or shy.
In fact, most of your eye movements are actually subconscious. You can prove this with an experiment. The next time that you’re out and about, whether with friends or by yourself, remember this article and try to figure out what you were just looking at.
If you were at a restaurant, were you watching the TV? Were you looking at a stranger sitting along not far away from you? Were you paying attention to a waiter or waitress strolling through the room while your thoughts wandered?
Too often, we don’t really know that we’re looking at something until after we’ve already seen it. It doesn’t matter whether we’re relaxed or nervous; our eyes can give away a great deal about what we’re thinking—even if we don’t know that we’re thinking it.
Imagine the power that a program or organization could have if it had access to that kind of information…
Hacking Could Gain Access to Everything
Let’s just paint an overall “worst case scenario” picture about the privacy concerns surrounding Google Glass.
You’ve been wearing your Google Glass just about everywhere you go. It was strange at first, but now you can’t imagine being without this helpful device. You have it on when you go to the ATM, when you enter your PIN, and when you log into your computer. It essentially ‘sees’ everything that you see, and can record it.
Where do you hide your spare keys at home? Did you put them away when you were wearing your Google Glass? What about your home’s security system? Did you disable it when wearing them? Could someone ultimately have access to anything your Google Glass recorded or ‘saw?’
A hacker might (and we have to say “might,” because Google Glass has only been made available to developers at the moment) be able to tap into the camera and software on your Google Glass and essentially witness everything you do, whether in real time or via recorded footage.
Or, what if you happen to place your Glass down somewhere and lose it? All of the information that was stored on your Google Glass is now in anyone’s hands.
Plenty of people have lost their phones and have had to track them down or delete the information remotely. Apparently this feature will be available for Google Glass, but will you be able to activate it in time to protect all of that valuable information from thieves?
Law Enforcement Snooping
Currently, laws regarding privacy and technology lag far behind the movement of technology. There continues to be a number of lawsuits that slowly (“a snail’s pace” would be generous) make their way toward the Supreme Court to determine whether law enforcement agencies violate a person’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy.
When Google Glass is released to the public, will there be any concrete laws in place that will protect what you see or experience with this incredible technology? Unlikely.
Today, law enforcement agencies in some areas are making a concerted effort to predict crimes before they happen. To do this, these agencies use surveillance cameras, license plate readers, and crime reports to create profiles about people’s personal characteristics and behaviors. Does that sound like science fiction? Or an episode of Person of Interest?
It’s already happening—so what happens if you’re sitting alone in a restaurant and a person of interest wanders in? Will law enforcement be able to access your Google Glass signal to watch what’s happening with their suspect? Will they be able to gain access to your personal whereabouts in order to ensure that you’re not committing any crimes yourself?
Right now, Google Glass is moving quickly toward public release, even though there really haven’t been any concrete, open discussions about the privacy concerns surrounding this new technology. Keep the discussion going, and take steps to ensure that your privacy is protected before bringing this type of device into your home.