While most tech enthusiasts are busy talking up the features and personal use-cases of Google’s Glass, few are discussing the obvious social ramifications such a device portends. A recent blog post by a Mark Hurst gives voice to and paints a picture of some valid concerns. He believes that it’s not the user experience that is the most important thing of Google Glass, but the experience of everyone else.
The concern is that, what happens to the social, public experience when people have these ubiquitous and eventually inconspicuous devices that can record everything? Well, you might say, surveillance cameras exist everywhere right now. But that’s substantially different than citizens recording things for, say, sharing on social networks. And the thing about the Google Glass is that, given Google’s hunger for data and desire to connect information, that data will likely, in time, find itself into Google’s cloud, passed through things like voice and facial recognition software, tagged and linked, forever saved, and perhaps accessible to others against your wishes or interests.
This is a tricky and interesting subject. There should definitely be a conversation surrounding this. Actually, there needs to be more conversations surrounding privacy and personal data management/rights if you ask me.
In case the Instagram debacle today left a bad taste in your mouth regarding the service, here is one solution.
…But then there’s this:
I’ve never had a Facebook account (or Instagram for that matter). And if Tumblr ever decides to follow in Facebook’s footsteps, I would be outta here so fast you guys might think I died IRL. Wait, scratch that. I would delete my Tumblr (after going through and saving some of the better content) and hope they still couldn’t use my data, much as I would hate to. First and foremost however, I would try to raise hell with other people to get them to reconsider.
Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” …
But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”
This is the kind of thing that sends my imagination spinning wildly. At the same time, this is something I would consider troubling. Definitely an interesting read.
Disturbing trend, this. I suppose they feel they can get away with it because they have so much leverage in this terrible economic environment. It’s about time a law is passed or something is done to put an end to this practice and protect privacy rights.
Carrier IQ’s diagnostic software on phones is freaking people out. It isn’t giving carriers much greater powers than they used to have, but it’s doing so in a different America. In the age of Occupy Wall Street, fear of the powerful has gone viral, and we don’t trust anyone to protect us anymore.
This is a good, insightful article. PC Mag also has a few other articles worth reading regarding this issue:
The Android developer who raised the ire of a mobile-phone monitoring company last week is on the attack again, producing a video of how the Carrier IQ software secretly installed on millions of mobile phones reports most everything a user does on a phone.
Though the software is installed on most modern Android, BlackBerry and Nokia phones, Carrier IQ was virtually unknown until 25-year-old Trevor Eckhart of Connecticut analyzed its workings, revealing that the software secretly chronicles a user’s phone experience — ostensibly so carriers and phone manufacturers can do quality control.
But now he’s released a video actually showing the logging of text messages, encrypted web searches and, well, you name it.
» via Wired
“Google has been asked by a US law enforcement agency to remove several videos exposing police brutality from the video sharing service YouTube, the company has revealed in its latest update to an online transparency report.
Another request filed by a different agency required Google to remove videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. The two requests were among 92 submissions for content removal by various authorities in the US filed between January and June 2011. Both were rejected by Google along with 27 per cent of the submissions.
The IT giant says the overall number of requests for content removal it receives from governmental agencies has risen, and so has the number of requests to disclose the private data of Google users.”
Regarding the Anonymous video I reblogged last night: it appears that this Operation Facebook may not have popular support amongst Anonymous. On the flip side, there is no strong consensus condemning the operation either. When you operate as a loose collective, support is a kind of dynamic thing. This is how Anonymous is supposed to work. If an idea takes root and is worthy, it will rise to become action. There is no central mastermind. Now, whether or not it actually works this way in practice is another question. Some people tend to think Anonymous really does have a centralized leadership. I tend to believe it doesn’t—at least not a classic one.
This Operation Facebook may be in a sort of campaign phase, seeking to garner support for a cause that falls under the umbrella of Anonymous’ ideals. Even if it does gain sufficient support, I doubt it will be enough to do anything significant. The most interesting things from that video were the accusations against Facebook regarding the peddling of private user information to third parties for questionable purposes. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how this all pans out. All I know is that I trust Facebook about as far as I can throw it, and, well, I don’t think you can throw a social network.
Message from Anonymous: Operation Facebook, Nov 5 2011
“This is our world now. We exist without nationality, without religious bias. We have the right to not be surveilled, not be stalked, and not be used for profit. We have the right to not live as slaves.”
I wonder what Anonymous have up their collective sleeves this go around of Guy Fawkes day… if they somehow managed to disrupt Facebook, I would shed no tears.
Step 1: You’re at a restaurant and someone takes a picture of your face with their cell phone without your knowledge.
Step 2: The image is run through the off-the-shelf facial recognition software/app.
Step 3: There’s a chance that person will soon know your name, age, your friends, your likes, where you live, and possibly be able to predict your SSN.
That scenario isn’t that far-fetched according to researchers, and the capabilities of this system will no doubt improve unless something changes.