Google Glass: a privacy blunder September 23, 2013 — by Minu Palaniappan For being such a smart company, it’s hard to believe Google could be so dumb. Google is looking to build computerized eyewear as its next platform product. Termed the “Google Glass,” Google’s headwear is not a consumer-worthy product since its functionalities are incredibly intrusive when it comes to user privacy. For being such a smart company, it’s hard to believe Google could be so dumb. Google is looking to build computerized eyewear as its next platform product. Termed the “Google Glass,” Google’s headwear is not a consumer-worthy product since its functionalities are incredibly intrusive when it comes to user privacy. The device is similar to any other pair of glasses, except that it has a mini-projector strapped onto the top that allows users to view a virtual reality. With these glasses, users can peruse through web content with simple eye movements and voice commands. Following disclosures the followed leaks by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, consumers have now began to shy away from using data-focused web services. Consumers have realized that their personal information, interests, connections and favorite locations are consistently tracked by intelligence agencies funded by the U.S. government. The Google Glass has many suspect features, but the one that attracts a majority of the concern is its ability to take video. What’s not to say that agencies such as the NSA tap into a user’s Google Glass and stream real time video of the user’s vision. Not only can individuals of authority gain access to citizens’ glasses, but Google also hasn’t taken the proper precautions to secure the device from prevalent hackers who have had a consistent history with tapping into video cameras embedded within devices. For years, laptop security has been an issue since cyber criminals have had the ability to access embedded cameras on millions of portable devices. This trend, without a doubt, would present itself with the Google Glass and ultimately break down the device’s reputation as the “next big thing.” Apart from its intrusive camera, the glass also has the ability to easily snap pictures. With the simple blink of the eye or a tap to the left of the glasses, a user can create that snapshot and save it to their personal storage account provided by Google. This convenient feature draws privacy concerns since it doesn’t stop users from snapping pictures of just about everyone surrounding them. If a majority of consumers had their hands on this product, one wouldn’t be able to tell if these Google Glass users were using the camera feature properly or exploiting its accessibility to take unwarranted pictures of others. Unlike taking pictures with your phone, the Google Glass snaps pictures in a significantly less obvious way. Google Glass, in addition to its media features, has the ability to comprehend your subconscious. According to Policymic, “Google Glass … tracks your eye movements and makes data requests based on where you're looking. This means the device collects information without active permission.” Glass is completely independent of its user and pulls data without permission. This ability makes Glass more of a hinderance than a convenience since it does not fully follow the user’s decisions. Google Glasses’ ability to log and database all the data that consumers require, elevates its value to a much more personal device. The Glass records where users have been, eaten, worked, lived and chronicles the smallest portions of their life. As a result, if these glasses were to fall in the wrong hands, users could easily be targeted using the Glass’s vast knowledge of its user. There’s no doubt that the Google Glass could be an essential tool to users who frequently travel. Glass gives users the ability to read emails, consume web content and get virtualized map directions at any time and location. There’s immense power to that functionality since it gives users an easy outlet to crunch data in seconds. But when inspecting the device’s features in its bare bones, I just see a more convenient smart-phone. That reality, coupled with the privacy issues, makes the Google Glass a gimmick with a huge downside.