Google Glass and smartphones: Invasion of privacy?
Oct. 13, 2014
by Mark Ollig

Early last Wednesday morning, while driving to the office, I did the usual stop at my favorite coffeehouse.

The outside air was a bit chilly, and it was still dark.

As I got out of my car, I looked up to the west and saw the last quarter of the lunar eclipse, and what they called the “blood moon.” It appeared large and bright in the sky.

There was still a bit of reddish hue on the moon’s surface.

Yours truly wears bifocals, and so I was squinting to get a clearer view. “I wonder if they make a high-tech set of bifocals with a zoom feature in them,” I thought to myself.

After getting my wake-up juice (a large depth charge, light roast, with cream), I walked back to the car remembering how Google had made a sensation last year with their high-tech, “smart eyewear” product called Google Glass, which are worn like regular eyeglasses.

My readers may recall the column from May 6, 2013, when I asked the question: “Will you wear Google Glass?”

So far, I have not seen many folks wearing them.

One reason might have to do with their price.

The Google Glass Explorer Edition (Sky) is listed at $1,500.

One concern I had with Google Glass frames, was how they would adapt them for folks like me, who wear prescription glasses.

Checking Google’s Glass store, for an extra $225, they can be made with an individual’s eye prescription.

Still, I’m curious on why Google Glass hasn’t caught on with the public.

On the Internet blogospheres and other social media sites, I read some people are not wearing them because of the confrontations they receive from others who are uncomfortable about being in the presence of Google Glass wearers.

Some feel wearers of Google Glass could be recording them, or engaging in some other devious invasion of their personal privacy.

Others have labeled wearers of these expensive Google glasses (yes, I am calling them glasses), as being part of the “affluent tech-elite.”

Tech-enthusiasts who enjoy using the newest technology, may be feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable wearing Google Glass in public.

One news outlet reported on an incident of a man wearing Google glasses, while he was walking home.

The man said he was not using any of the features on the Google glasses, when all of a sudden a woman ran up to him and angrily shouted “Glass!” then grabbed his glasses, and ran.

While the chase ensued, the Google glasses ended up being shattered into the ground.

In San Francisco, a social media consultant, while wearing a pair of Google glasses in a local establishment, encountered patrons who began shouting at her because they believed she was filming them without their consent. They became enraged. One patron grabbed her Google glasses, and ran out of the establishment with them.

I also read about businesses banning the use of Google glasses.

One establishment has a sign on their front door showing a red circle and diagonal slash over an image of Google glasses, with the message: “Kindly remove before entering.”

Google glasses have apparently become the target of privacy advocates, who feel its wearers are stealthily recording them, or taking their picture without their permission, and then using “facial search” or other applications.

Perhaps an improved visual indicator on the glasses frame, such has a red LED (light-emitting diode), could activate when it is recording; instead of the small cubed screen, which illuminates when a Google Glass feature is in use.

While Google glass is yet to be popular, millions of us are using our smartphones to record and share breaking news and events with the entire world.

We’re uploading our videos to social media sites such as YouTube, and other online networks.

Today’s ever-growing population of independent citizen journalists, are using their smartphones as a reporting tool.

It’s now commonplace to see citizen-captured news video on mainstream and social media sites.

People are using their smartphones to record and broadcast local community civic and social events, political protests, and social unrest in this, and in other countries, in order to increase public awareness, and in some cases, to bring about change.

Many engaged citizens, who desire to communicate with the public their activism in the causes they believe in, are sharing their video in real-time by using live-streaming social media networks.

Examples include organized citizen journalists and the public who live-streamed and recorded videos of the recent protests held in Ferguson, MO.

Some of the more popular videos have been taken of law enforcement interactions with citizens recorded by passers-by.

After George Orwell’s book “1984” came out, people began worrying about “Big Brother” using video cameras to watch our every move, invade our privacy, and, more or less, take control of our lives.

Many envisioned a future where the authorities would have us under constant surveillance; monitoring us like rats running around in a maze.

Well, that was then, and this is now.

As Sherlock Holmes once said, “The game is afoot.”

It’s 2014, and we live in a society where it’s not just Big Brother with the video cameras – us “rats” have video cameras, too.

How we use video recording technology, without infringing upon each other’s First Amendment and privacy rights, remains the subject of much debate.

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