Now that Americans know their government has nearly unlimited access to all of its digital data via the PRISM program and the acquiescence of the world’s largest Internet companies, some are concerned that Google Glass will usher in the end of personal privacy as we know it.
Google Glass gives users the ability to record everything they see and hear through a piece of computerized eyewear. That means every single thing that happens within the wearer’s field of vision (and within earshot) will end up on a Google server, including the actions of people who would prefer not to be recorded.
Much like with cell phones, the device also allows Google to track users’ movements and privacy watchdog groups have raised the red flag over what it might mean if millions of people start wearing Google Glass. The Chertoff Group, a global security privacy firm helmed by former secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, likens Google Glass to wearable drones capable of tracking and recording literally everything that happens in the public space.
Recordation isn’t the only threat, either, and some argue that it barely rises above the amount of tracking smartphones impose on users now. What may pose more of a threat is that Google Glass uses face recognition technology that could be appropriated to track the movements of specific people over time. Another concern is what happens when a user witnesses an intimate or criminal act – the moment is instantly uploaded onto a remote serve and, to some degree, is no longer owned or controlled by person who recorded it.
That gives Google – and, by extension, the U.S. government – far more surveillance power than many people realize. Congress has already asked Google for answers to several questions about potential privacy violations, but Google execs have yet to answer, instead opting to tell the press that people’s privacy concerns are unfounded.