Follow-up on Data Collection and Personal Responsibility – More about the Google Glass Debate

As we discussed in our last post, people are collecting lots and lots of the personal information that ends up being publicly disclosed.  A couple of interesting articles have been published since then that shed further light on the problem.

In this article in Business Insider, we see more evidence that Google Glass is more than just a potential annoyance; it’s a potential vehicle for significant personal data security disclosure.  The article notes, for example, some of the things that can be recorded by Google Glass that are scarier than your behavior at that party the other night.  For example, standing behind you at an ATM gives the Google Glass wearer a chance to record your pin number.

The key point of the article, however, is less the kinds of data that can be collected with Google Glass than the fact that Google Glass can be hacked – with the potential result that data collected with no bad intent can be accessed by people who do have bad intent.  So merely collecting data with Google Glass is a matter of personal responsibility no matter the circumstances.  And yes, that is true now with respect to any connected device.  That doesn’t let the Google Glass user off the hook; rather it should put the Google Glass user on notice of the risks.

One more thing I haven’t seen in the Google Glass debate –  if you believe that the NSA is collecting all data that you send through any network, and if you don’t like that, think about what happens to all those images you’re collecting.  Think about NSA facial recognition programs.

Maybe you’re collecting data for the Man.

On the other side of the issue, an article in Mashable discusses the possibility of jamming Google Glass network access:

The technology, called, detects Glass devices on a Wi-Fi network by their media access control (MAC) addresses and blocks their access. The program, which runs on Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone mini computers, can also “emit a beep to signal the Glass-wearer’s presence to anyone nearby,” according to Wired. The program works via a USB network antenna. It uses Aircrack-NG to impersonate the network and send a deauthorization command, which blocks Glass’s Wi-Fi connection.

One cultural note about the Mashable article.  This is the first sentence:

A Berlin artist may have escalated the persecution of Google Glass enthusiasts with a program that lets you jam their Wi-Fi reception


An article on TweakTown also deals with the Google Glass jamming issue.

The TweakTown article will point you to Julian Oliver of Stop the Cyborgs.  Whatever your perspective on the Google Glass debate and the general discussion of privacy and data collection, Stop the Cyborgs is a place to find thoughtful and informative reading.  If you are at all interested in the subject, you should go there.

Considering these issues in the abstract is easier than considering them in the context of real events.  Here’s an example: 

A summary of the facts as reported in this article in the StarTribune:

    • Two paramedics examined a man outside his apartment building. We’ll call him the “Patient.”
    •  Andrew J. Henderson happened to be there and happened to have a camera with him.
    •  Mr. Henderson filmed the paramedics as they went about their work.
    •  At some point, the paramedics asked the Patient about his medical history.
    •  One of the paramedics asked Mr. Henderson to stop filming.
    •  The paramedic says he was concerned for the Patient’s privacy.
    •  Deputy Sherriff Jacqueline Muellner was also present at the scene.
    •  Deputy Muellner took Mr. Henderson’s camera.
    •  The camera was returned three weeks later.
    •  Mr. Henderson says his film of the incident was gone when the camera was returned.

So – what’s right in this case?

    • What’s more important – privacy or freedom to film?
    •  Does it make a difference personal medical information was involved?
    •  Does it matter that, in this situation, the Patient wasn’t in a public space voluntarily?
    •  Should Mr. Henderson have asked for permission to film?
    •  If so, who should he have asked?
    • Would the answer to any of the questions be different if the film was posted or not?

Perhaps most importantly, who gets to decide what’s right?





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