Google Glasses — New Innovation or Another Way to Spy on Citizens?

It's not just for the movies anymore... digital glasses are soon to be reality.

Google recently announced a new product that it hopes to bring to the market by year’s end.  Google Glasses are glasses worn over the eyes that use Google’s technology to communicate information about what the person is seeing.  The glasses will have a built-in screen that presents the information in such a way that the person can view it on top of what they are seeing out of the glasses.  A very small camera on the front of the glasses will transmit images to Google, allowing it to process surroundings through existing technology, like Google Earth and Google Maps.  It is still up in the air just how information will be transmitted.  One possibility is a cell phone-like plan that allows the glasses to stay online through 3G and 4G networks.  Bluetooth through WiFi connections is another possibility, although this would limit the glasses to areas where WiFi is publicly accessible.  However, many major cities are instituting WiFi all over there metropolitan areas, so Google may be able to take advantage of this with its new product.

While it certainly sounds like a cool idea, the privacy concerns are already popping up in droves.  The idea of everything a person sees while wearing the glasses being transmitted to Google via the Internet may provide a lot of useful services.  Imagine using Google’s global navigation services right through your eyes.  Or having real-time pop-ups of businesses with information, store hours, and products offered.  However, it also opens up the opportunity for Google to keep track of what a lot of people are doing.  Google has not commented on whether any of the footage is to be recorded, but it’s not a far reach to believe that if Google Glasses catch on, a lot of information could be circulating out there in real time.  The real privacy concern is not for the person wearing the glasses but for those around them.  After all, the person that puts on the Google Glasses is making a cognitive decision to use the service and allow their whereabouts to be tracked continuously.  However, people passing by have not agreed to having their likenesses transmitted over the Internet, and it’s only a matter of time before protests begin.