Why 'wink to take pictures' in Google Glass will fuel privacy fears

Google has confirmed a cool (or creepy depending on which side of the privacy debate you are on) feature to its Glass eyewear - wink to take pictures.

"Whether it's capturing an amazing sunset on an evening walk, or photographing your receipt for the lunch you'll need to expense, you can now stay in the moment and wink to take a picture instantly. If you want to turn it on, just swipe over to Settings", said Google in its announcement.

Now just wink to take pics: Reuters

Now just wink to take pics. Sergey Brin with Glass: Reuters

Of course the new feature is unlikely to be received very well by groups who have already expressed their concern that Google Glass will create a whole new set of privacy problems. These groups have said that people will have no way of knowing if they are being secretly photographed or recorded by people wearing Glass.

And now that taking photographs can be done with as discreet a gesture as winking, the outcry over privacy is only likely to grow louder.

In May 2013, the US Congress wrote a letter to Google chief Larry Page, asking what privacy safeguards are being put into Glass.

At Google's I/O 2013 conference, the company sought to allay some of those fears, but were not very reassuring.

Charles Mendis, an engineer on the Glass team, was quoted in the Verge as saying "If I'm recording you, I have to stare at you — as a human being. And when someone is staring at you, you have to notice. If you walk into a restroom and someone's just looking at you — I don't know about you but I'm getting the hell out of there." Steve Lee, the product director for Glass added that "Privacy was top of mind as we designed the product."  (More here)

Sorry Google, not very convincing.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the company had thought about some privacy implications for Glass and made sure people who aren't using the device would be able to tell when it is "on" and could be recording them using its built-in camera. Google Glass won’t be able to record information without lighting up its small screen so that people next to the wearer can see it is on.

Concerns that Google Glass could be used to secretly record private conversations and activities is what sparked the creators of StopTheCyborgs to encourage businesses across the US to pre-emptively ban the use of Google Glass in their establishments.

The site offers downloadable anti-Google Glass signs and links to contact politicians to promote legislation regulating the use of the glasses prior to the launch. The 5 Point Cafe, a bar in Seattle, was among the first to post signs banning Google Glass on its premises in an effort to protect the privacy of its patrons, the bar's owner said. (More here)

The 'wink to take pictures' feature is just one among many new features that Google has announced as a part of what it is calling a seasonal treat for Glass enthusiasts.

The other upgrades include a lock screen feature for the device, the ability to upload videos directly to YouTube, Google Hangouts and good news for Apple fans - an iOS app. (You can read more about these here)


Published Date: Dec 19, 2013 10:36 am | Updated Date: Dec 19, 2013 10:46 am

Also See