The Problem With Google Glass

The Ban on Google Glass Begins (and they aren’t even available yet)

I’ve been putting this off for months now [ opining about Google Glasses aka “Google Glass” ]. Now that The Five Point Cafe in Seattle has decided to throw down the gauntlet [ and YAY! good for them ] and ban wearing Google Glasses inside the well known eating and drinking establishment, I’ll weigh in as well.

I’m actually familiar with the Five Point Cafe. Every over-worked web designer and Seattle musician knows the establishment as well. It’s just a great place to have breakfast or just relax, have a drink and unwind WITHOUT being bothered, stared at, hit on, or subjected to someone getting up in your face for [ fill-in-the-blank ] reason. I nursed many a late night out, Sunday am  hangover at the Cafe in the 1990s, when I lived in Seattle.

Just about the last thing anyone wants to deal with when they are staring into that first cup of coffee on Sunday morning is some geek with a smartphone taking video of the cafe you are sitting in, or some geek with a pair of Google Glasses on, surveying the cafe interior for their Facebook travel page.

As the promo video below demonstrates, once you wed your soul to a pair of Google Glasses, you are never off the internet. You become the seeing eyes and listening ears for any locale you travel through and you can discreetly bark off instant voice commands to post any photo or video to the web as you go about your life. That’s not unlike carrying a smart phone 24-7 where one can do the very same thing, as everyone loves to point out.

But there IS a difference. When someone is taking a photo or video with the smartphone, you can usually see that they are taking a photo or video, and discreetly step out the way if you choose NOT to be included in their “coolest street scene ever” shots. Ladies who don’t want creepy photos taken up their dresses on the low-down can usually figure it out when some strange guy keeps squatting to tie his shoe next to them, for like …  5 or 6 times, as soon as they see his smart phone in his hand.  Videos posted to YT have documented this newest and ugliest version of the 21st century ‘Smartphone Peeping Tom’ on store surveillance cameras numerous times.

With the coming release of Google Glasses it’s going to be a lot harder for people to know who’s shooting video and taking photos if they are passing through a crowded location and numerous people in the crowd are wearing Google Glasses. Assume if you see someone wearing a pair that they can choose to take photos or video at any time and that you could end up being in their images whether you want to or not.

I doubt any stranger is going to coming running up to you for you to sign a release for being caught in their Google Glasses video pan by accident. Legally, we are in a whole new territory here.

Exception:  If you happen to be stone drunk, or just dead tired,  nursing a coveted cup of Seattle Jo before getting on the highway for a long road trip, and you happen to be getting yourself sobered up highway travel in Seattle’s Five Point Cafe, you can relax. No one is going to snap your hilariously disheveled “hangover face” and post it to the internet without your knowledge or consent. No Google Glasses allowed.  Jaw dropping ass whuppings by gangs of really mad, terminally unemployed grunge band drummers reserved for any violators and are fully enforced to make a point.

I’ve whipped up a short list of the PROs and CONs of wearing Google Glasses. These techno-specs conjure up a whole plethora of possible legal, ethical, philosophical and privacy concerns. Below are several examples.

Google Glasses PROs: All the Usual Goodies Provided by High Tech Photo and Video Toys

>> You are walking through NYC’s Central Park and you catch the last 6 minutes of the most amazing juggling act ever. A guy with his face painted like The Wizard of Oz is actually juggling three tiny chihuahuas dressed in tuxedos in and out of 10 gallon stetson hats while crooning Patsy Cline tunes. Weird. Awesome. Grab video of that and post it to your YT acc0unt.

>> Driving through Glacier National Park you take photos and video of some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Pacific Northwest, and post it to your travel blog before you get back to the hotel. Wonderful.

>> You go to a Lady Gaga concert in Paris and she splits her pants doing a pole dance. You are only three rows back and you catch the whole thing on video, replete with her snarling and blowing kisses as she runs off stage to change pants. Amazing. It’s on the internet going viral before she returns to the stage with a fresh pair of pants on. Your YouTube account makes a wad of money on the advert income. And you got it first! YES! [ Vigorous fist pump. ] Google Glasses are so awesome.

Google Glasses CONs: Three Problematic Scenarios

>> You are an ex-cop, now the lead guard at one of the most notorious and dangerous prisons in the United States. Every work day is a life threatening hazard and you’ve been injured 14 times in the past 4 years since you took this job. You don’t love this job –  or even like it, but it’s a job and you have a wife 3 kids and a mortgage. One morning your Warden gives you a pair of Google Glasses to wear while you make your rounds. He shows you how to use voice commands to record any violent acting out on your floor with the glasses. He says you can issue a soft voice command and document any inmate who wants to give you grief and then post it to an account used by the prison for legal and medical incidents. “These are for your own legal protection” he states. “When it’s your word against the inmate’s as to what happened, the video won’t lie.”  He tells you the inmates won’t know the glasses are recording photos or video when you interact with them.  “Shouldn’t the inmates be informed?” “Nope,” he says. “If we tell them, they will just cavort for the cameras and behave worse than usual, to see if they can get on the internet and get some attention.” You find the whole situation dubious, but for today you are required to wear these glasses. Three months later you, the Warden and the prison system are sued within an inch of your life by a clever inmate who reads law texts for fun – for taking photos and video of prisoners without their knowledge or consent, and using it as evidence in the legal system. A whole fresh can of worms is opened up legally in the American penal system as to the legality of taking video “on-the-foot” of prisoners by a prison guard, as he passes by prisoner’s cells, and whether such video violates the civil rights of the prisoners, especially if they did not know in advance they would be photographed or video taped by the passing guard.

>> You work in a huge insurance firm. The office building where you work is 30 stories tall and has more than 1300 agents employed there. You’ve been working for this firm for nine years. You recently learned that a small group of veteran insurance executives, their secretaries and several top salesmen have a little “private sex club” that they enjoy sharing on the 28th floor of the building on Fridays about 2 pm. The janitor told you about this one day when he sold you some pot. You didn’t believe him. He told you where it was and said “Walk by some Friday about 2:20 pm, put your ear to the door and listen.” So you did. Woah. You are really jealous, really furious, and wonder why you were never invited, but would be scared to participate if you WERE invited because you are happily married and you love your wife. But you are still mad and this is your chance to GET EVEN. You decide to lay-in-wait for the participants to exit one Friday and you find an excuse to be on the 28th floor. All you have to do is wear your Google Glasses and be standing far enough away that no one exiting the room can see they are different from regular glasses. You end up recording video of every person who walks out of the room, then go white when you see the last man out of the room is the President of the firm. TMI dude. Now what? You know too much to ever forget about what you know, but there is no to rat to but the big boys in Chicago. You will lose your job, for starters. You could bring down the whole firm. Or not. You could sit on the big secret, or even use the footage to blackmail some of the guys leaving that room who stole sales from you and you hate them for it. Then there’s Jack. Jack always hits on your wife at the annual office party and you really especially hate him for that. Now you have video of Jack leaving that room. You could nail him. Should you keep the video, or erase it and act like this all never happened? [ There is a great movie script in here somewhere, don’t you think? ]

>> You’re a really tough, really tired, really bitter L.A. cop whose been on the force for 21 years.  Those 21 years have felt like 42 years. You’re coming apart at the seams and you have been for 6 years now. You have stood in front of a judge twice for slapping your wife so hard it left a mark for a month on the side of her face. Your teenage daughter is living in West Hollywood and you haven’t seen her since she left home when she was fourteen. You are not even sure what color her hair is or if you would recognize her if you did see her. All you want is OUT of this GD job, but you don’t know how to exit your career without losing face. You have just been assigned to dreaded foot patrol in McArthur Park, concluding immediately that someone on the force has it in for you, and now you’d like to know who. At issue these days is gang members wearing Google Glasses then provoking the cops to any sort of confrontation while wearing the techno-specs, then catching video of the melee and posting it all to the internet before the officer even has time to call for back-up. Laws aren’t on the books for this stuff and no one knows how to proceed. But you have already decided how you are going to handle this one. Anyone wearing a pair of Google Glasses who even looks your way is going to get their face and glasses smashed together into one bloody goo, then hauled off the to the slammer for 30 days minimum. A medical person may – or may not – get to them to stitch their face up and pick the metal out of their forehead for a week or two. Once two or three of these unfortunates make it back out onto the streets, the word will be out: “Like the way your face looks? Better leave your Google Glasses at home then, where they will remain separate from the flesh on your face.” Personally, you don’t even care if you stand in front of a judge again over messing up some jerk’s face and twisting his Google Glasses into the side of his skull. You are on your way out anyway, why not do it with LA COP panache?


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