Congress Sends a Letter

I totally missed this, but the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page, posing eight specific questions about their privacy concerns with Google Glass(es). I doubt Google will answer these truthfully, so let me go ahead and do that for them.

In 2010, it was discovered that Google was collecting information across the globe from unencrypted wireless networks. This practice caused multiple investigations into the company along with consumers left perplexed. Google just recently agreed to pay $7 million to settle charges with 38 states for the collection of data from unprotected Wi-Fi networks without permission. Google also admitted that they did not adequately protect the privacy of consumers and “tightened up” their systems to address the issue. While we are thankful that Google acknowledged that there was an issue and took responsible measures to address it, we would like to know how Google plans to prevent Google Glass from unintentionally collecting data about the user/non-user without consent?

“First I would like to start by thanking Congress for their keen interest in our exciting Google Glass project — it really will change the world (Or an island. You guys catch my keynote?). As for Glass unintentionally collecting data, I can assure you that Google Glass will indeed only intentionally collect data. This collection is not limited and therefore is all encompassing and should help us better tell you what you actually want to do. All users and non-users have consented to Google Glass’ collection of data by simply searching on Google.com.”

What proactive steps is Google taking to protect the privacy of non-users when Google Glass is in use? Are product lifecycle guidelines and frameworks, such as Privacy By Design, being implemented in connection with its product design and commercialization? For example. if a Google Glass customer/user decides to resell or to dispose of their Google Glass product. Would there be any product capabilities incorporated into the device to ensure that one’s personal information remains private and secure?

“We are leaving it up to the user to make sure that they are not using Glass in a way that negatively effects non-users. Further, we see this as an issue for Congress itself to address with lawmaking. All Google Glass devices are protected with a retina scan of the users eye — the data of which is stored on Google servers — and no data will be accessible to another user without first allowing us to collect their retina scan.”

When using Google Glass, is it true that this product would be able to use Facial Recognition Technology to unveil personal information about whomever and even some inanimate objects that the user is viewing? Would a user be able to request such information? Can a non-user or human subject opt out of this collection of personal data? If so, how? If not, why not?

“Using the vast database that Google has amassed about our users we will apply an algorithm to determine if that user actually wants us to share their personal information. So, yes to Facial Recognition, and a big ‘Hell No’ to opting out. Do you have any idea how many requests we would get if we let people opt out?”

In Google’s privacy policy, it states that the company “may reject requests that are unreasonably repetitive, require disproportionate technical effort… risk the privacy of others, or would be extremely impractical” Please provide examples of when Google would reject requests on Google Glass that would risk the privacy of others? Would Google place limits on the technology and what type of information it can reveal about another person? If so, please explain. If not, why not?

“Look for our privacy policy to be updated… While Google will not be limiting the technology, for the greater good, Google would certainly hold back Social Security Numbers for individuals — that kind of privacy invasion is just creepy.”

Given Google Glass’s sensory and processing capabilities, has Google considered making any additions or refinements to its privacy policy’? If so, please explain. If not, why not?

“We absolutely will be tweaking our privacy policy to adapt it to the ever changing needs of Google. Starting July 4th, 2013 we will be editing the privacy policy of Google to simply reflect our motto: ‘Don’t be evil’. This will make Google’s privacy policy the shortest of any tech company and the most open.”

In Google’s privacy policy, it states that the company “may collect device-specific information (such as your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information including phone number).”
a. Would this information be collected from users operating Google Glass? If so, what specific information is Google intending to collect’?
b. Would Google Glass collect any data about the user without the user’s knowledge and consent? If so, why? If not, please explain.

“A. Google is intending to collect all information input to, located around, seen by, heard by, touched by, or thought by Google Glass users and those within 30 feet of Google Glass Users. B. We will be clearly popping up a dialog that the user will see when they don Google Glass explaining what will be collected. Should the user not want to consent, they must simply click the ‘No’ button with their mouse, otherwise the message disappears in 3 seconds and thus the user will have consented. This we believe is the best experience for Google, I mean the user.”

It was recently revealed that the New York Times was the first to release an app for Google Glass. To what extent was privacy considered in approving this app? Is Google planning to make privacy a priority for future app developers? If not, why not? If so, please explain.

“Our engineers, the smartest in the world, scrutinized the app to make sure that it did not compromise the privacy of Google in any way. Thank you for your concern, and I can assure you we will do our very best to protect the privacy of Google’s algorithms.”

Will Google Glass have the capacity to store any data on the device itself? If so, will Google Glass implement some sort of user authentication system to safeguard stored data? If not, why not? If so, please explain.

“All data will be stored in the cloud so that Google can better sift through the it and help pull out the relevant bits while tossing aside things the user need not concern themselves with. For example, we have determined that emails from the ‘Brooksreview.net’ domain are superfluous to all recipients, while Viagra related emails clearly need priority.”

“In closing I would like to thank each of you personally for your letter:

  • Mr. Barton: Thank you, FYI your dinner will be ready 10 minutes late today because your wife just Google’d ‘how to make burnt food taste better’.
  • Mr. Rush: URGENT: Do not eat at that diner again, the waiter is upset you only tipped 5% and Google’d ‘How to hide spit in food’.
  • Mr. Nugent: I can see you.
  • Mr. Chabot: It’s 78° outside and a comfortable 72° in your office, yet you insist on flannel underwear, please explain — just speak to the east wall in your office.
  • Mr. Barrow: I would like to thank you for using Google to research the article citations in this letter. It made it much easier for us to know what would be said.
  • Mr. Jones: In 1972 you said that you traveled to Borneo, however given your recent search history we now know where you really were. Call me.
  • Mr. Johnson: Dad is proud, right this moment.
  • Mrs. Sanchez: Hi.

There you are Mr. Page, I saved you some time.

Originally posted for members on: May 20, 2013
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