The amazing lightness of Google’s Being There vs The Private Eye

click to enlargePerhaps it is The Google Gimlet Eye’s peevishness at this late hour, but mentioning this company in conjunction with ‘privacy’ lately makes the Eye Goggle. First there is the sheer howling irony of chairman Eric Schmidt’s interesting definition of the Digital Dark Side in this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal, a state of data mining and real-time behavioral monitoring that applies to totalitarian regimes like North Korea, Iran or Syria. Places where Google does not do The Business of Gathering and Monetizing Your Big Blinking Data.

It was cheering to see National Public Radio’s Audie Cornish take on, albeit gingerly, the Mighty Schmidt on this subject:

CORNISH: Now, Eric Schmidt, at one point in the book, you suggest that companies will need to invest more in legal departments because of all the lawsuits over privacy. And your company, obviously, has been criticized and sued over privacy concerns. At least six European governments right now are investigating Google’s privacy policies. Is this the cost of doing business in the future for technological companies in the Digital Age?

SCHMIDT: I think it is. In Google’s case, we do, in fact, have this information. It’s important that we respect the way we collect it and the purpose we’ve collected it for. In fact, the lawsuits in Europe are about the fact that we, in fact, published the fact that we – the ways in which we would use this information and people want even more disclosure. And we’re arguing over how much disclosure is necessary. We think we’ve done enough.

But the fact of the matter is that Google has a huge responsibility to maintain your information, keep it under your control and not misuse it. And we try very, very hard to achieve that.

CORNISH: You raise a lot of questions about what this privacy could mean for people’s ability to protect their identity, to protect their reputation, to protect themselves against governments. But you don’t offer a whole lot of solutions…

And then the interview veers off into fields of peat, ‘unearthing challenges’ and ‘fostering debate’ about how to handle the 57 percent of people in autocracy (and it’s not a world governed by General Motors where everyone has a Corvette or a Monte Carlo SS) coming online. Glub.

But back to the 43 percent. Why should there be privacy solutions when Google is dedicated to being a Good Guy and Responsible to People? What happens on the day when Sergey and Eric are off waxing their yacht decks enroute to Tulabonga and this scrap of ethics goes overboard? (Just like laws on the books that are not enforced.) By that time, we’ll all be wearing Google Glass or the iVersion. Market researcher IHS iSuppli forecasts approximately 9.4 million units of ‘smart glasses’ will be shipping between now and 2016. In other words, a ton of miscellaneous data gathered by cameras and apps, on whatever you do and ‘see’ on the streets of London and New York. (ZDNet)

click to enlargeThe prospect makes for one Tired Eye, so past Visine. But if you have the energy to look for Big Brother, he may be no further than your healthcare-providing employer who is going to lower the cost of keeping YOU around and, cherry on cake, gets a government grant for a wellness program. If you still prove to be health refractory, will you be the one with the mandated wearing of Google Glass with The Eatery/Massive Health app to ensure that you mind yourself at the buffet and don’t get within a mile of that Triple Chocolate Blackout Cake? Will there be a monitored HAPIFork? Will your FitBit take la mordida? (And wasn’t Winston Smith in the ‘1984’ film a bit of a wide-body? But hey, he’s jogging! He’s in the program!) Dr. Hsieh doesn’t blink in Big Brother Has A New Face, And It’s Your Boss (Forbes)

Previously in TTA:  Google Glass and healthcare: VCs agree; Google Glass: a proper potential in healthcare; (Telehealth Soapboxes) Employee wellness: Carrot? Stick? Or something else?A random walk through privacy, “the right to be forgotten” and health tech

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Comments

  1. Steve Hards

    You have a good(!) idea for Google Glass? Get it funded.
    Cheaper Google Glass competitor from Japan – ‘Telepathy‘ (The commenters seem to think that the main health risk is from being punched in the eye while wearing these devices.)

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