Violent backlash against Google Glass


The latest innovation from Google, the Google Glass eyepiece has recently caused quite a stir regarding the recording function of the device. Sarah Slocum, a tech writer, was allegedly harassed at a San Francisco bar for recording people with her Google Glass.

According to Slocum, the “Google Glass haters” gave her an obscene gesture, after which she turned on the record function of the device. She told them she was doing so and one man “ripped the Google Glass off [her] face and ran out of the bar.” The others reportedly robbed her of her phone and purse.

It is probably important to remember that the incident took place during the last call at a punk rock bar where the beer was flowing and the common sense was probably not. Still, it is interesting to note that both parties involved in Slocum vs. the “Google Glass Haters” reacted violently over a video recording that lasted barely more than 10 seconds.

We live in an age where many breaking news story videos are footage shot from a cell phone camera. The ease of Google Glass — portable, hands free, no fumbling for buttons — opens a whole new realm of opportunity in the digital age. The GoPro camera that straps onto objects such as a helmet is also hands-free, but the Google Glass allows for complete control of what is being captured. Although it would not be desirable for quality video in news, in a pinch, it could become any news-gatherer’s dream.

So what is causing the backlash with the public? How is recording on a Google Glass any different than whipping out a cell phone to take a quick video?

Some argue that it is because people can’t tell if they are being recorded or not. Google Glass advocates refute this by saying the Glass has a red light that turns on to indicate that it is recording.

Perhaps it is the fact that the Google Glass seems invasive by nature. The device can go wherever its owner goes and people find that type of technology more threatening than a video camera or even a cell phone.

Or maybe it’s because the Google Glass right now looks something reminiscent of a sci-fi flick.

I personally think that what it boils down to is that people are uncomfortable that they can’t easily see what the Google Glass is doing (as if it isn’t hard enough to get someone’s permission to be recorded anyway). The red recording button does exist, but it is small and definitely inconspicuous compared to a video camera or even a cell phone.

Bottom line, I think it is important to be upfront about recording people with any recording device. Google Glass is an amazing piece of technology, but the people pioneering its integration into society need to recognize the privacy concerns that arise with it.

Because if you’re ignorant about that, you’re bound to get your (Google) Glass kicked.