Tuesday, May 07, 2013

"Google Glass(es)" stir up more controversy, about potential photography of people (and card hands) in public places and businesses

A wearable computer (well, isn’t a smart phone practically that) can create new social and perhaps legal controversies, according to a front page story Tuesday May 7, 2013 in the New York Times by David Streitfeld.  Specifically, the device is “Google Glass”  (can be spelled as plural, but only one lens has the camera).  The title is telling: “Google Glass Picks Up Early Signal: Keep Out”, link here

Right now, according to the article, there are only about 10000 in circulation, 2000 for developers, and 8000 testers. 
The device can access the Internet and take photos. So can smart phones.  But it’s much harder for someone else in a public place to notice if he or she is being photographed.
There’s also an auto safety question.  The “glasses” would be legal in many states, where it is illegal to operate a cell phone or even a camera if you can’t keep your hands on the steering wheel.  It could be a convenient way for someone to take landscape pictures when driving alone in a place without parking.  But it could also cause a kind of surveillance on other drivers by private citizens, although there is so much now from public cameras that it’s not clear how much that could matter.
In bars and discos, the expected etiquette about photography is evolving but getting stricter than it was maybe even just two  years ago, because people are concerned about being tagged in social media and about what they have heard about facial recognition software (probably overblown).  People seem less sensitive about this in California than in the Midwest or East. (As one relatively nice person said in a bar last fall, "That's not OK" anymore.)  But the glasses could complicate things, as merely “staring” apparently is involved in taking a picture.  At least one bar in Seattle has banned the product, and I suspect others will, especially way from California and Silicon Valley. 
And casinos already prohibit photography around  gaming tables (after all, they prohibit card counting, too), but that means they would have to prohibit the glasses, too.   
Will the TSA have some kind of issue with this product?
Will the product work well with contacts?  Will it evolve to where it can be combined with prescription products (outside of Beverly Hills)?  Take it furture: Could Internet access be surgically implanted into the eye?

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