Hot on the heels of the publicity-whoring cafe in Seattle that banned Google Glass, the UK now has its own group of privacy zealots who want to heavily regulate Google Glass before it's even on sale. There's a manifesto and everything. Cute.
The website starts out promisingly, with a nicely Luddite strapline:
"Fighting the algorithmic future one bit at a time"
From there, it just gets better, with the traditional scaremongering that Google Glass is basically 1984 waiting in the wings with Google the Party and us the unwashed proles:
If the government installed CCTV cameras and microphones everywhere, all feeding information to a central control room you would probably characterize it as a privacy risk. Is it any better if its run by a corporation and the devices are attached to people’s heads. Is a human spy drone, which is socially incentivised to share information any better than a UAV?
The group posts their manifesto on their website, complete with a handy little list of suggestions for what you can do to get involved:
- "Make your property and place of work a Google glass or surveillance device free zone by asking people to switch off their devices." Because there's nothing like an airport security sign to match your blackout blinds and tinfoil hats.
- "Write to your political representative and express your concerns." That's always done loads, traditionally.
- "Set up a group in your local area and get together to debate and raise awareness. You may want to use an online tool like meetup.com to help advertise but the best idea is to start small with your real life friends or existing political groups and build it from there." 'Cos hey, if you can't use Google Glass to alienate your friends, invite them to a wanky Technophobes Anonymous meeting instead.
- If you are artistic, think about how you could approach the issue in art. God, please no.
- If you are technical think about how to build better more human, privacy preserving systems. It's actually a well-known fact that all 'technical' people can build a better system than Google. Honest, 'guvnor.
In complete fairness, the group isn't calling for a blanket ban on Google Glass; rather, they're worried about who controls the data on them, which, to an extent, is a valid concern, especially when Google Glass, with its camera, isn't just recording data on the individual user, but everyone the Glass-toting person interacts with.
But that's kinda already the case. If you send an email to someone who uses a Gmail account, it's stored on Gmail server, shock/horror. As we've noted before, Google Glass will raise some questions around creepshots and privacy; equally, though, Google seems to be aware of the problem -- they've previously stated that "behaviours and social norms will develop over time". Either way, though, there's certainly a conversation to be had -- it's just that conversation requires tolerance from both sides, because a clash between geeky lifeblogging advocates and tinfoil-clad privacy zealots will end badly for everyone involved. [Stop the Cyborgs via BBC]
Image credit: Stop the Cyborgs