Perception of Privacy


We were out for dinner with our daughter last night and the conversation landed on Google Glass. For anyone who hasn’t heard of Google Glass, this is a concept known as ubiquitous computing; the idea of fitting computers to every day objects rather than people having to go to computers. Android and smart phones already fill this bill, in many ways eliminating the need for bulky desktops.Google Glass aims to take this a step further by allowing the user to interface with a pair of sunglasses. Google is in talks with manufacturers like Ray Ban, but adds that their goal is for this modular device to attach itself to prescription glasses as well.

Our daughter enthused about the concept for a few minutes, until my husband asked her if she realized the problem with them. A moment of silence followed, we could see her impatience grow – just short of rolling her eyes she relented and asked what the problem might be.

He explained how Google Glass put the GPS in our phones to shame. This device would allow not only our position but every word we spoke, person we met, or conversation we had to be on record. Google Glass is “big brothers” dream come true. A birds eye view of everything we did in a day.

I’ve had a day to ponder her reaction and conclude there was nothing exceptional about it. As alarming as it seemed to my husband and myself, I’ve realized we hail from an era where privacy was truly private. Not that there was the slightest hint of privacy around the single land line in the kitchen, at least when leaving the house I was untraceable. My children have never lived in a world where they didn’t “ping” off a cell phone tower or instant message their friends. Every purchase we make is tracked by store point cards, we “like” on facebook to receive coupons or join discount clubs, we customize the news received – all carefully monitored and digested by big business.

I have nothing against progress – simply hoping we realize the price we pay. My perception of privacy is based on impossibly outdated concepts; I can’t expect my children to understand the freedom of complete privacy. nor could I resist the opportunity to point out the perils of yet another privacy robbing device.