Google Glass: Democratic Technology That Breaks Privacy Rights


Issues surrounding privacy and regulation have been at the focus of many emerging technologies, most recently the Google product — Google Glasses. There is already a ban on the futuristic eye wear executed by “a Las Vegas casino, a Seattle dive bar, and West Virginia legislators” (Fast Company).

Despite privacy concerns, a global democratic platform truly exists if everyone experiences interconnectedness that, even though it requires access to certain privacy rights, Google Glasses would leverage on personal accountability and more customized regulatory practices. One example of this is sex workers holding their clients and cops accountable as prevalence of mistreatment is high within the industry.

NPR recently interviewed physicist and writer, David Brin, on his opinions concerning Google Glasses.

"Every generation has been challenged by new powers of vision, memory, perspective, attention and reach," says Brin.

Google search engine, Smartphone cameras, and even Kodak in the 1800s have been at the forefront of privacy concerns, but in time, people realized the benefits outweighed their fears.

Brin wrote in 1988, "The world had a choice. Let governments control surveillance tech ... and therefore give a snooping monopoly to the rich and powerful ... or let everybody have it. Let everyone snoop on everyone else, including snooping the government!"

Although it’s normal for people to react in fear when their privacy rights are compromised, it is crucial for society to adapt to new technological changes rather than empowering selective constituents of these privileges.

For example, it would certainly be a shame if a revolutionary product like Google Glasses were rejected by the public; yet the government and other institutional bodies had access to such a powerful tool. With programs like PRISM in place, Google Glasses would enable self-policing practices, while gaining greater insight into governmental matters.

As Google further addresses how Project Glass will comply with privacy rights and data collection regulations, it will continue to be under public scrutiny. However, we shouldn’t be so quick to disavow the release of a socially innovative product. Rather, address its concerns and reconfigure the device to better meet institutional privacy regulations.

Finding a social compromise between technological innovation and legislative practices is always a challenging task. That is why participation on all levels — political, governmental, social, and economic — is vital in implementing the most optimal design and policy program to embrace democratic technologies.