General Question

flo's avatar

How strongly do people feel about their privacy in western countries and the following product?

Asked by flo (7558 points ) March 29th, 2014

And how do they feel about Google glasses in relation to that?
Are people complaining about their lack of privacy in general? And isn’t Google Glasses against privacy considering that you don’t know that you’re being photographed or video’ed.

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40 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Heh..I feel very strongly about privacy. My most recent shock was when the ATM at my bank wished me a Happy Birthday when I made a withdrawel on my brithday.
Fuck…had to laugh, but, not really funny.
Give it up…it’s out of our control.

jerv's avatar

Expectations of privacy in public areas are ludicrous. If you’re walking down the street, everybody can see you, so you can’t really expect privacy. And how, @Coloma, can you be shocked by that when you gave your birthdate to your bank as part of your proof of identity when you opened your account? When I tell someone something and they remember it, I don’t see that as an invasion of privacy; it’s when they spy on me to find out things I didn’t tell them that I feel violated.

While I value privacy, I also have more reasonable expectations than many. I figure everything I post here on Fluther can be seen by anybody, so there’s quite a few things I won’t post simply because I don’t expect privacy here. Unfortunately, many people have no real understanding of how that works; those are the people you see posting bad things about their boss on Facebook then wondering why they got fired, or bragging about cheating on their SO then winding up single. They think only their intended audience will see such things when, in fact, they’re posting where anybody who wanders by can see what they thought was private.

Public areas (including most of the internet) are not your living room where only your invited friends can see what’s going on. The sidewalks are not your bathroom, so keep your pants up when walking down the street. And don’t be offended if you’re photographed in public where everyone can see you already. Information control isn’t hard, folks!

Coloma's avatar

@jerv Well duh..of course they have my birthdate but some Twilight Zone greeting from the ATM was pretty bizarre. It was a first.

zenvelo's avatar

Google Glasses are no more invasive than dozens of smartphones and lots of surveillance ams at every intersection in the downtown of every medium sized city.

Indeed, we have willingly relinquished much of our privacy. Use credit cards and starbucks cards and grocery store club cards and chain drugstore cards? And then wonder why you get targeted marketing for things on line? Because you gave away your shopping preference and things are tracking you through life. Use wi-fi on your smartphone while at a chain store? All being tracked.

So, @flo, not quite sure why you’re picking out Google Glass.

jerv's avatar

@zenvelo I can take a guess; like many, @flo probably didn’t make any connection between privacy and willingly giving out information until Google Glass came out and allowed her to be photographed whenever she’s in public.

LuckyGuy's avatar

There’s a reason the wearers are called “Glassholes.”

ragingloli's avatar

Someone needs to develop a portable google glass scrambler, that surrounds you with a 100m emp bubble.

jca's avatar

@ragingloli: A Google Glass Force Field.

bolwerk's avatar

Most people are probably more concerned about clandestine spying and privacy invasions. Google Glass probably presents similar ad hoc privacy problems that cell phone cameras create.

Concur with @ragingloli though. It would be nice if there were a solution like TV-B-Gone to this stuff.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

Wherever you go in public urban spaces (and many not-so-public spaces) you’re being photographed whether you know it or not. Populated areas are full of cameras, because cameras are cheap.
In some places, there are laws about photographing people without their consent; in such places an entity could run into legal trouble for using such pictures (or video) in certain ways. But as long as the data sits unpublished in an archive somewhere, no one complains because no one has a specific complaint- even if such a complaint could or would be honored.
In some social contexts it’s considered rude to photograph people without consent, and so there are social sanctions that apply to people who whip out a phone or camera and wave it around willy-nilly. The problem that people have with Glass is that it’s hard to tell when the user is taking pictures with it, so that they could “surreptitiously” violate this informal social norm. It’s creepy, and if you do it, you’re a creep.
I’d happily go to a sporting event or a concert with someone wearing Goggles. (The performers might feel differently about it, though!) I’d be less happy with it if they wore them at an office party. At a dinner date, I’d be creeped right the hell out. And I’m pretty sure I’d kick Aphrodite out of bed if she was wearing them there.
It’s easier to watch people and spy on them than it’s ever been. It’s not likely to ever get any more difficult in the future. Privacy as we’ve known it is dead, or soon will be; we will have to figure out other ways to curate our information.

LuckyGuy's avatar

One of the many issues with Glassholes in particular and other system is the immediate ability to surreptitiously use facial recognition software to ID strangers. A creep, Google glass user, can look at a woman in a bar, capture a few dozen pictures of her and then do a FB or Linked in search for her face . If he gets a hit he now has her name and potentially a lot of personal info about her before he even says hello. He also knows she is not home and can send that info to accomplices. There are so many ways this can be misused and abused. He can tell her employer she is out drinking. He can publish the info on social network sites, etc. The creep can describe and misinterpret the info any way he likes and she would have no idea it was happening. “Here is Mary Jones of 123 Main St., hooking at Smith’s Bar and Grill, on March 31, 2014.” He can upload it to the internet and FB and she would have no recourse. If she wanted it taken down he can charge her a shakedown fee.
So many ways.
When society starts treating them like voyeurs, potential blackmailers, and scam artists, the usage will drop. (Maybe – I say “maybe” because there are plenty of voyeurs, potential blackmailers, and scam artists)
And if anyone meets with you while wearing a pair, you need to ask them to be turned off or simply walk away. This date is over, pal. ~(And I am going to tell all my FB friends and friends-of-friends about you.)

jerv's avatar

@LuckyGuy `~Like we don’t already do that..

flo's avatar

But with the regular cameras or smartphones to a lesser degree or people can see that someone is taking their picture but with the glasses yiour’re just wearing glasses, no way to know unless you read about it and saw the picture of it and you happen to be close etc. Some creeps in the park and children for example…

jerv's avatar

@flo You don’t know what sort of peripherals are out there. Being a tech geek, I’ve probably seen a few more of those types of things than most people. Thing is, they aren’t publicized the way Google Glass is, largely because unlike GG, they don’t have many legitimate uses.
I often wear a ballcap that has built-in LED lights. It’s pretty subtle, less obvious than Glass, yet I could easily replace the front one with a camera. Are you opposed to ballcaps?

flo's avatar

….“but with the glasses yiour’re just wearing glasses,” Rather, they are wearing glasses.

The regular cameras and smartphone are more than good enough, easy enough pictures are great and no one can claim they are too heavy. On the other hand, on top of the creepy things Google Glasses can be used for, they allow dangerous activities with their hands free people would do 2 things at the same time like drive and focus on something else just to mention one example.

jerv's avatar

@flo True, but I still fail to see how it’s worse than the current situation. While I personally only use my phone as a GPS when I’m driving, there are others who don’t. And I could easily install voice controls that would allow me to do all sorts of things.

What troubles me is that technology has evolved faster than society. We don’t know how to handle 20 years ago, let alone our current capabilities. Science fiction offers possible solutions, but people dismiss fiction and thus ignore past speculation in favor of starting from scratch for answers.

flo's avatar

This is not about science fiction, technology this is about creeps, and other whatever other terms come to mind.

jerv's avatar

@flo Exactly. You also dismiss fiction because you see absolutely no parallels with history or current events. Manned spaceflight, handheld communicators, and nanotechnology don’t exist and never will because science fiction never has anything to do with reality. Speculation becomes utterly invalid the instant the word “fiction” is mentioned. Sci-fi doesn’t have creeps either, so again, no parallels. We’ll never have prosthetic limbs that hook into the nervous system, nor replacement ears (cochlear implants). It’s impossible to take electricity to make a light so bright it burns through metal (cutting laser). All of these things are impossible because sci-fi mentioned them.

jerv's avatar

Besides, I thought this question wasn’t about creeps; I read it as being about how society feels about a particular type of emerging technology. And by asking the question, you were seeking thoughts that may not have occurred to you, like my thought that the issues such technology brings up were addressed decades ago by a source many dismiss derisively.

Did I misinterpret the question? Or did the question change without me knowing?

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

Whatever the solution to the problem of privacy proves to be, it won’t be found by simply calling people names and ostracizing those who choose to use certain tools. Google glass isn’t the problem; all the creepy aspects of Glass are equally available to other technologies which are less famous but more available.
Cameras are so small, cheap, and power-efficient that someone could put one in a hat like @jerv‘s without his knowledge; if anyone noticed it at all, it would look like just another LED, but one that’s not working. All the hats in the store could be treated this way, with the hidden cameras attached to tiny wifi-enabled computers in the hat (could be done with space left over using a Gumstix hidden in the brim and a button-cell on the top).
If @jerv is wearing a camera hat that streams to the internet, but he doesn’t know it, does that make him a creep? If someone is wearing google glasses but someone else remotely turns the camera on, is the wearer a creep?

It’s not about the technology, but about privacy. People need privacy, and in fact it is widely regarded as a human right.
Tools are just tools. They facilitate actions both good and bad. By themselves they do nothing; agency comes from people. To blame the tool for the action of its users is misleading and counterproductive.
Privacy is important, and increasingly hard to secure in the modern world. The trend in tools is to make information easier to discover, not easier to secure. Of all the things that the computer Age has brought us, only cryptography works to aid our privacy, and that not well enough.
As a privacy advocate and technology educator, I’m a big booster of cryptography and the various methods of maintaining one’s privacy online- but technological methods aren’t enough. Social norms and interpersonal pressures have to change, or privacy will disappear entirely.
Where does social change start? Has it started already?
Do we out the creeps, name and shame them? Anonymous seems to think so- but do we want to be Anonymous, or merely private? Are they different things any more?

jerv's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius That’s just it though; while there are those like you and me who saw this issue decades ago, it wasn’t really until fairly recently that mainstream society even knew that this could be an issue, and a bit more recently before regular people even started to think about it. And we haven’t even got a handle on how to deal with social media like Facebook before being introduced first to smartphones, and now to the wearable computing of a style that was fictional in the ‘80s, prototypical in the ‘90s, niche last decade, and about to become commercial.

Where does social change start? I feel it starts with education. Be aware of what technology already exists, and how it will evolve. (My earlier thing about sci-fi was because technology has evolved as sci-fi predicted in enough cases to be educational.) One cannot address an issue and change to deal with it without understanding the issue, preferably before the issue becomes a problem.

Has it started already? Barely. While there are some people like you who are educating people, most are still too busy freaking out to sit down, think about it rationally, and come up with solutions, be they laws or new social norms. How has Shadowrun handled the fact that the majority of people walk around with what amounts to Google Glass? What sort of society has emerged as a result of ubiquitous computing, and everyone spending most of their time with AR (Augmented Reality) overlays on everything they see, and the ability to record and stream to a worldwide computer network in real-time? And how could that be relevant to Google Glass? What could we learn from speculation that was done years ago?

flo's avatar

It’s all there.

flo's avatar

…on @LuckyGuy‘s post.

jerv's avatar

@flo Not all of society agrees. There are enough that share my opinion that, when asked, “How do people feel about…”, one must consider views other than their own. Otherwise, the entire discussion is invalid, as the actual question is, “Who agrees with me?”.

Therefore, either there is more to it than @LuckyGuy‘s post, or this entire thread was started under false pretenses.

jerv's avatar

One element I haven’t seen discussed is the concept of reciprocity. Whatever others can do to you, you can do to others. So, instead of @LuckyGuy‘s reactionary proposal, society may form etiquette around this “new” technology, and treat others as they themselves would want to be treated. As cynical as I am, even I have faith in the inherent goodness of humanity here, even if that goodness is based on fear of ostracism rather than on actual altruism.

The people that we worry about doing bad things with Google Glass have been doing all the things you worry about for years. If you see GG as the end of decency, then you are in denial about decency ending decades ago.

@LuckyGuy There was a time when having a pager meant that you were either a drug dealer or pimp. Pager usage didn’t decline until something better (cellphones) came along. And I still fail to see how your hypothetical there is worse than current reality.

flo's avatar

“Texting and driving is very dangerous, don’t do it”

Sellers of cellphones et al: “But so is…ing while driving, so there is no point in alerting people of texting and driving…”
Grasping at straws, changing the subject defending the indefensible, defense lawyers’ talent.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@flo What are you talking about? Whom are you quoting? No one else is talking about texting and driving.

Does pointing out that other people besides you have opinions equate to “lawyering” in your mind?

flo's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius I’m confident people know the word parallels.

flo's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius Debating against the advice not to text and do other things at the same time:
“Cellphones/smartphones aren’t bad things, it is some people who are, ....it is not the technology…”

jerv's avatar

@flo Like the parallel I pointed out earlier that you dismissed.

Anyways, you’re correct that people do what they shouldn’t do. I still fail to see how Google Glass and similar technologies will make things worse though.

flo's avatar

I fail to see how a cigarette salesman would agree that is smoking is bad for the health.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@flo It’s evident that there are many things which you fail to see: prominent among these is the fact that a tool is not a moral force in itself, because it lacks agency. There is literally nothing a perp can do with Google Glass that they can’t do with existing, off-the-shelf technology. The glasses are no more (and no less) a threat to privacy than are smartphones.

Also, if you are going to accuse someone, come out with it. Don’t try to be clever- it’s not going to work for you. Do you think I or @jerv work for Google, or that one of us has a vested interest in the glasses? I can assure you that it’s not the case with me(I’d love to work for Google, but not as a salesman or flack), but I’m sure you won’t believe me. Your tinfoil hat appears to be screwed-on too tight for new information to impinge upon your sensorium. In addition, if you care to continue a conversation, you might want to review the thread before typing; the word “text” does not appear in this thread before your “quote” (except, ironically, as part of the word “context”.)

jerv's avatar

@flo Google doesn’t do CNC Machining. Rest assured that not only do I not work for Google, I don’t even work in the same industry. Not that you’ll believe me; your mind is already made up.

Accordingly, I am taking your last post as a comically weak ad hominem that reinforces @rexacoracofalipitorius’ views that you’re just too closed-minded to accept new information or handle views other than your own. This has led you to ignore the technology of the last few decades, and now you’re tilting at windmills vilifying Google Glass for having capabilities that have been in the hands of creeps for as long as I can remember.

Raven_Rising's avatar

There are countless ways people can take pictures or monitor someone in public. I mean, you can put a camera in a pen, hat, tie, stuffed animal, smoke detector, clock and a bazillion other things. And as far as I can tell, the only actual differences between Google Glass and any other wearable camera is how quickly that information gets to the net and price point.

However, the thing about tools is that its the user that decides what is done with it. Surveillance systems can allow you to catch a predator or you can become a predator. The device is neutral. However, just because a product can be used for evil gains doesn’t mean that it can be drummed out of existence either.

People value their privacy, but they also value their safety. I’m not crazy about all of this monitoring myself. I don’t want to be an internet celebrity or have the NSA monitoring my phone conversations or internet usage Hi, guys! but apparently many Americans would rather have the illusion of safety than the possibility of privacy.

jerv's avatar

“Surveillance systems can allow you to catch a predator or you can become a predator.”

When average people have the ability to conduct surveillance, it can actually make them behave better. Look at some of the ways police have had to mellow out now that they are getting caught on camera.

The power to surreptitiously photograph hot women in public is also the power to hold people (even government) accountable. Would you mug a person who can send your picture to the police before you can rip the glasses off their face? All this look at the negative, and yet I seem to be about the only one mentioning the positive.

But lets be realistic; most people will just use Google Glass for cat videos.

flo's avatar

I already responded to that.

flo's avatar

Example:
”...you might want to review the thread before typing; the word “text” does not appear in this thread before your “quote”...” I already responded to that with the “parallels”.
So, I will end this quote unquote debate.

jerv's avatar

So tell us, @flo, how does Google Glass make things worse than they already are with regards to stalking, covert surveillance, and the like? And is it worth depriving many legitimate users of technology because of a few bad apples? Cars are used for kidnapping and drug smuggling, yet I don’t hear you calling for quashing the automobile.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@flo Again with the non sequiturs. Do you even know what you are talking about, and just expect everyone else to guess, or are you as utterly lost as you appear to be?

The word “parallels” isn’t a response to a ”“debate (as you put it). Nor yet is the quote “I’m confident people know the word parallels.” You elliptically mention these parallels without citing to nor yet responding to them- presumably because you’ve got nothing but incoherent indignation. Did you have something to say, or did you just sign in to sputter?

jerv's avatar

Sadly, I was expecting a nice discussion on a topic I have strong feelings for, and was hoping to see informed opinions from many angles. Instead, it’s just an empty soapbox where all OP sought was agreement rather than enlightened debate.

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