Creepy Google Glass App Allows Strangers To ID You By Just Looking At You

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News Posted: Wed, Feb 5 2014 4:25 PM

It took all of a minute after Google announced Glass for privacy concerns to come to the forefront, and since then, the company has worked hard to calm everyone's fears. While Google itself might not bundle software that has the potential to invade someone else's privacy, there's little to stop a third-party developer from filling that void.

Take NameTag, for example. This is a future mobile app that has the ability to scan someone's face, and then query a number of databases to find a match. Information about that person is then displayed. Clearly, though, someone is going to notice you getting in their face with your smartphone to scan them. That's where the discrete Google Glass shines.

With the NameTag Glass app, any Glass owner would be able to scan someone's face without them knowing, and even if some precautions are put into place, short of a fog horn going off when the picture is snapped, it's probably not going to be enough to notify that person. And, let's face it, this is meant to be discrete. The idea behind NameTag is that you can learn about people around you before actually meeting them.

The privacy risks that arise from such a solution are no doubt obvious. Picture, for example, standing in a crowd and scanning someone at random. As it turns out, that person is an online social butterfly, and without any effort, you can learn about where they ate last night, where they got their car repaired, and where they last took a vacation. It doesn't take much imagination to understand why simple information like this would be useful to a social engineer.

The company behind NameTag understands that Google took similar features out of Glass for a reason, but it believes that in time, the company will reconsider. "Google has announced that facial recognition will not yet be supported for Glass; undoubtedly due to pressure from privacy groups but believes that by providing applications with such vast societal benefits, Google will eventually reconsider."

I'm not as confident about that as they are.

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sevags replied on Wed, Feb 5 2014 6:57 PM

I am not confident about that at all. I know there are many situations where a feature like this might not only be useful but absolutely needed. On the other hand there are many ways to take advantage and abuse a feature like this. In the end I think the bad out weighs the good and that is why Google removed the feature and that is why I don't think anyone will be begging google to bring it back other than those who can profit off of it.

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TBH, you're the one putting that information out there online. If you don't want it to be accessible to others, you probably shouldn't put it out there.

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Dave_HH replied on Wed, Feb 5 2014 9:05 PM

I think Seth looks pretty swank with his Glass on and he's secure enough to have his mug on the interweb. :)

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if a stranger started looking me up online i would give him ONE chance to stop before i crushed his glass

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That's not always true anymore.

In the case of someone who takes a picture of you and then queries it, you are being put on the web by that someone and can than be 'updated' by others of that same someone who keeps repeating at different times and places.

Here in the Netherlands in the bigger cities stuff like this is being used by the muslim youth to spot Jews and keep track of the cops on the street. As soon there's not a cop neer and a Jew is spotted, then the persecuting begins...

Apps and cameras that make you able to quickly query somebody or a group can have very bad side effects.

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scolaner replied on Fri, Feb 7 2014 11:25 AM

Unsure how I feel about Rob's thought process: "I need a pic of someone looking creepy in Google Glass. Ah! Seth! Perfect."

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