Should it be a moral obligation to harass and denigrate Google Glass wearers in public?



Should it be a moral obligation to harass and denigrate Google Glass wearers in public? I say maybe.

Allowing individuals to walk around and normalise the filming of each other is something that should be fought against by anyone with the slightest concerns about privacy and mass surveillance.

I accept some CTV coverage of public spaces because that’s space we all share that needs authorities to access from time to time and that footage has obligations by those authorities . Individuals on the other hand just filming everything around them at all times has the added challenge of becoming simply an extension of NSA mass spying as well.

If we allow Google Glass wearers to walk around and normalise this kind of 24-7 all seeing digital eye, we are losing another front against mass surveillance.

Defenders of Google Glasses will of course claim anyone can walk around with their cell phone and just film people, and that’s true, but the glasses make that filming unending. A persons arm is going to get tired after a while and that prevents the ongoing part of that intrusion – Google Glasses however by the fact they sit on the face means that recording can be endless and that is simply a step too far into our shared experience of personal space.

If we allow this to become normal, it will become normal. If citizens vigorously challenge people in public while wearing Google Glasses and make wearing them as socially unacceptable as drink driving, then we retain the privacy of our shared experience of personal space.


  1. I tend to agree with most of the things you say Martyn but I don’t know if I entirely agree with your post here. I do see your argument but there is also the argument that the same technology can be used to defend rights. I am thinking here of police wrongdoing, corruption etc. Imagine if Kim Dotcom had been wearing Google glasses on the fateful night donations were brought up?

    I just think that you cannot stem the tide of technology. Better to embrace it and use it as wisely as you can. I know that in the world of cyberbullying my comments may seem a little contentious but it is also a world of global communication on a scale never seen before. The average person finally has a vehicle to be seen and heard and learn like never before in human history. To hinder these things seems counterproductive.

    Google glasses are only a tool, its how they are used that is the issue. A hammer can build a house but if used improperly take a life. Its the same thing here.

    • Brent Partner says:
      June 18, 2014 at 8:02 am

      … Imagine if Kim Dotcom had been wearing Google glasses on the fateful night donations were brought up?

      Do you really think John Banks would have made the requests he did (to split the donations) knowing he was being filmed on Googleglass?! Somehow, I doubt it.

      I find the whole concept more than a little creepy – it’s disturbing. Women, for one, may be even more reluctant to go to the beach or public pools, in swimsuits, knowing that someone may be filming them with googleglasses.

      Or paedophiles filming kids.

      Or boyfriends/husbands using footage for “revenge posts” on dodgy porn websites.



      Personally, I would be very reluctant to interact with someone wearing these gadgets. Any such one-on-one interaction becomes a mass interaction between yourself; the Glass wearer; and an unknown number of other people.

      I concur with Martyn on this issue. It is indeed another stake in the coffin of privacy.

      I’m reminded of a scene in an episode of “Dr Who” where everyone is connected via an implant – a kind of cybernetic-cellphone. David Tennant’s charachter remarks,

      “How easily you lot give up your individuality…”

      Part of our individuality is a measure of privacy, depending on the situation we might find ourselves in.

      • Frank like Martyn you are someone whose opinion I tend to share and respect. But in terms of technology and communication the floodgates are open and have been for sometime now.

        Looking at your “Or” examples above – these horrible things are all happening now with or without Google Glass.

        I would also say that people doing these unsavory acts are using far more covert methods of invading peoples privacy than a pair of very obvious glasses that advertise their use by their ridiculousness.

        Do we also ban social networking sites like Facebook because they have been used as a tool in some very nefarious activities such as Roastbusters. Do we ban all blogging platforms because of Cameron Slaters and others repeated invasion of peoples privacy. Or do we accept that some sort of education and legislation for the people that will inevitably use this technology, no matter how much we jump up and down, be put in place.

        Pinpointing one piece of technology as some sort of scapegoat is trying to cure an insidious problem by attacking the symptom of its effect than its causality. The root cause of these problems is societal not technological.

        I do firmly believe that education and regulation and not prohibition is the way to effectively minimize the effects on peoples privacy. It would be nice to think that banning whatever technology will solve a societal problem. But as we have seen with other issues such as cannabis reform; prohibition is not an effective means to control a problem.

        I totally agree with your last sentence but to achieve that aim I think some pragmatic thinking beyond my ability needs to be done rather that kneejerk reaction thinking

        This will be my last ever comment on this site because I do respect the views of people here and I do not want to contribute to the “fractured left” myth. Thank you for the discussion

      • Yes, but it may also become common to conceal cameras and voice recorders, so we would possibly not even notice. This product is visible, at least, but there will be a fair few happy to use concealed “glasses”, same as there will be a fair few stiffly opposed.

        How can we control this, if you harass a person filming in public, they can have you charged with harassment or worse?

        So this is stuff the law makers must give serious consideration. When filming itself is perceived as a form of harassment, in public or private, legal action must be enabled.

        • 70 years ago my elderly great grandmother was walking from the local grocery store in Otorohanga, when a group of tourists started photographing her without the courtesy of asking first. They wanted pics of her chin moko.
          She sorted them out very quickly, as she walked towards them brandishing her walking stick and cursing them in her Maori language, letting them know in no uncertain terms that they were totally out of line.
          I would do exactly the same, and to hell with the consequences.

  2. Who the fuck would be wanky enough to go around wearing those things ? They’re Uber Nerdy and are laughable to be honest and let’s ask why ? Why wear them and copy everything ? It puts a new spin on boring holiday snaps .
    I think they may be being used as a class room teaching aid for the alien hoards who are about to descend upon us . They’re being shown our ways so as ‘ they ‘ can assimilate better into our societies . Looking like paula benett , judith colins , bill english , jonky-stien and others is wearing a little thin and are being outed so a new tactic must be tried perhaps .
    @ Brent Partner . A hammer is not a flash metaphor . Google Glasses are intrusive and if I meet someone wearing a pair I’ll pull them off their fucking faces and stamp on them if they try to film me .
    My visage , while not traffic stopping is my property . No one else’s . As is my voice . When some company or corporation TELLS me , not asks me , that they may record a phone conversation ‘ for training purposes ‘ I tell them that I do not give them my permission to do so for any reason at all . My voice is my property as is my appearance and as technologies become ever more able to use both for various purposes and rarely for my benefit I agree with Martyn , we must be very careful to not allow the proliferation of the Surveillance State .

    • So you are saying you do not walk into shops because sure as shit you’re your visage is being filmed there. Do you park your car? Yep, visage being filmed there. Walked into an airport etc? Not too mention Martyn’s example of the smartphone.

      Its only the vehicle that doing the filming that is different. Again its the hand (in this case face) that wields the tool that needs educating or regulating not the tool itself that needs eradicating – that way dragons lie. Its all a balancing act.

      The answer lies in regulation not prohibition

      Personally I can’t see me investing in a pair of geeky glasses not really my thing but I would like the right to be able to do so. And if the state wanted to subject me to surveillance I would like the same access to a tool to survey them back.

      • “Do you park your car?”
        Sodding CCTV is yet another intrusion that may be touted as “for your own good and public safety”, but I loathe. A spray can on a pole with a remote triggering device works wonders!

      • ” but I would like the right to be able to do so.”

        would you also then accept someone elses right to tell you to take the things off?

        yes cameras are pretty much everywhere, however there is still a level of choice. I can choose to not enter a shop, i can choose to not drive somewhere, i can choose to not go into the CBD – but i cant choose to not have you filming me while you talk to me unless you consent to removing the glasses.

        Im not saying they should be outlawed or anything – but it does bring a new facet to the concept of online connectivity that many dont like – mainly because it puts the decision in the hands of the operator not the subject

        if you walk down the street poking a video cam into peoples faces a fair proportion will be quietly telling you to stop filming them

  3. G glasses should be as acceptable as an unzipped trouser fly.

    They may develop bona fide uses in medicine and industry but hopefully not in general daily life. I just give people ‘the look’ if I catch someone with a camera phone pointed in my direction.

    Nerds may start wearing G glasses but watch out when it catches on with the lunkhead more muscular set if you fancy some camera rage. But I guess if they are tagged as social death it will be like Bomber says about driving while pissed.

  4. Individuals on the other hand just filming everything around them at all times has the added challenge of becoming simply an extension of NSA mass spying as well.

    How do you figure that?

    Yes, I know the NSA hacks PCs with malware but people really do need to secure their gear better. If they do that then the NSA or other spy agencies won’t be able to have access to the video unless it’s given to them. So what’s needed is better education about security.

    So, no, I’m not worried about people wandering around wearing Google Glass.

    • ummm…

      you do realise that the reason for the recording in the first place is to put it on the net?

      in which case its completely available to all the spies?

      • You do realise that it’s covered by NZ law?

        Take particular note of the police guidelines.

        Quite simply, if you’re in a public space your expectation of privacy is, essentially, nil. Your actions are, by the simple expedient of you being in a public space, public.

        And, no, you can’t assume that the reason for the recording is to put it on the net.

  5. I feel very sorry for any ignoramus who thinks that it would be acceptable to film me without my consent. If anyone wants to take my image, I will most definitely take their dignity – their glasses will be in pieces.
    When I am photographed for security purposes in shops, car parks etc, I accept that this may be for my safety or the safety of the business owners.
    For someone to think filming indiscriminately with either Google glasses or a mobile phone is acceptable – I will gladly teach them otherwise.
    You can bet they will not try these antics with Black Power or Mongrel Mob members, nor for that matter John Key or any of his cronies.

    • There are likely to be plenty of ingnoramuses ready to test those of us that don’t like being snooped on.

      Your comments raise another good point Maama, ShonKey’s security people and coppers in general are likely to wear G glasses too. Whose video will be believed though when it comes down to evidence in court say?

  6. Privacy as we once knew it is no longer, I am afraid, and this is just another development, which I am highly concerned about, but I fear there will be little we can do to stop this in public places.

    It seems the technological development is unstoppable now, and it has its nasty sides to it. Technology can be used to improve communication and keeping track of what we all do, but it also leads to forms of “surveillance”, which may not be wanted.

    The privacy law already allows us to record conversations if we are part of it, and as I understand it, we do not have to tell the other party that we do record them, although it would of course be the “decent” thing.

    Having dealt a lot with officialdom, and also dishonest people, or such that may trick us into saying and doing things that we later regret, I have shown an understanding for persons that recorded conversations with ACC or WINZ staff and especially their medical assessors. Yes, it may assist in keeping them “honest” and accountable, but it works both ways, of course.

    We have already seen what is now common on social media, like Facebook and Youtube, where people publish stuff that can be embarrassing or plain nasty. There are laws to keep recording stuff in check. This new ‘Google glasses” product seems to just add to the challenges, where the law will evolve over time.

    Mass surveillance by the way does actually happen 24/7 on the internet, for most, who do not use encrypting and so forth, and our providers like Google, Bing, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and whatever we call them, they are doing it all the time, to gather information about what we click, read, watch, buy, who we may communicate with, and so forth. Of course they follow “rules” to encode information, but those that want to keep an eye on what you and I do here, they can easily keep track on us, and create profiles and much more, so they are “observing” us.

    The internet was meant to improve communication and offer new “freedoms”, but in reality, it asks a very high price of us.

    Prepare for more commercialisation and manipulation of every bit of our lives, we are heading right there already.

  7. Google eyes will be part of the five-eyes spying cartel snooping on billions of girls and boys around the globe, the information garnered on every last one of us will be placed onto forever held information retention technology devices.

    Information collected will be integrated with any other personal data held by the countless spy and/or Corporate agencies in the USA, Russia, China etc, etc, etc.

    It will be collated digitally and will help in the creation of such things as illegal facial recognition databases.

    Amazingly we are watching the creation of Borg like technology apparatus by Google.

    Google Eyes, get this, are being sold to unsuspecting people [not all unsuspecting I would be willing to speculate] who unknowing/unwittingly are joining a Collective, a Hive that most participants would seriously bulk at when acquainted with facts such as Google being part of the extremely secretive Bilderberg group.

    Only the smart people will be wearing Google eye glasses, that will be the overriding sales pitch from marketing, you must be dumb if you don’t have this product, egos will be poked then stroked.

    And of course we all now know of the Google revelations by CIA agent and whistle blower Mr Edward Snowden.

    A little aside here: Mr Snowden should be inundated with awards from freedom groups, reform groups, unions, etc, etc, etc and any legitimate groups who present bravery reports, it should be the same for Mr Wiki Leaks himself Mr Julian Assange. Both these world class heroes put the very life on the line.

    Both Assange and Snowden should also be jointly nominated for the Nobel Peace prize. Perhaps 10’s to 100’s of millions of e-mails should be sent to Oslo demanding that these men of peace are recognized.

    Anyone know why/how US President Barack Obama managed to get nominated for a Nobel Peace prize let alone win it?

    The majority members of a hive [a Collective] are called drones.

    Drones in the sky watching citizens every move, and the now burgeoning numbers of organic drones, humans, canvasing the grid that is out streets, highways, and byways, even the back alley rat and it’s nemesis the alley cat are not immune from son to be constant surveillance.

    For decades they called people who spoke about these things kooks and conspiracy nuts, Assange and Snowden have proven those so-called kooks and conspiracy nuts to have been right. We, you and me, we, all of us, we are late to the game, we are behind the eight ball, every cliche that means being late applies to most of us.

    Yes, this is about rights, it is about lost rights but it is more than that, this is about impending slavery, oh, and for those who thought we had done away with slavery how in hell do you think those cheap jeans, that cheap top you bought at that local warehousing shop were so cheap.

    I’m not telling you what you don’t already know, you know Chinese workers have been working in slave like conditions for decades, not just Chinese workers but countless workers from third world and first world countries are no more than slaves and we have been supporting that slave trade knowingly.

    Our choices are now coming back to bite us, the 1% have decided that it is time for the rest of the world to slave away for them. They have been for the last 40-50 or more years building a surveillance cage around us and it is now mostly completed.

    We are in the same danger that our fathers and grand-fathers, our countries faced in World War ll. Fascism is here again, Corporate fascism but I would suggest it is far more powerful than the fascism of the World War ll era, technology today would see a hellfire or some other lethal drone launched military ordnance come through our front door.

    Fascist Corporates control the media and it regulates the world monetary system. Oh yeah, it controls most if not all Western Governments, it uses it’s various financial institutions to keep them in line and do what they are told.

    You want things to change, educate the people, show them how it all works to deceive them and keeps them blind via consumerism.

    You must have the latest cell phone, you must have the latest flat screen TV, and to help the fascists out how about buying a pair of Google glasses for you and the family.

    IPhone & IPad are perfect examples, anyone see the queue that stretched around the block when those toys went on sale. I’ve made it, I’m someone, I feel special, I got an IPhone I gotta an IPad, look how special I am. You mean you haven’t got one!

    I do not advocate violence, I believe harassment to be a form of violence. I’m thinking it might be time to start wearing an Anonymous mask when I leave the home [anyone know where I can get one], try that on for facial recognition!

    Lets target these Corporate entities by boycotting their products like a lot of Kiwis have been doing with Countdown supermarkets, I see Countdown is using kids toys to get at the parents through the kids, don’t allow it, show the power the consumer actually has.

  8. Now this would be a reason to be concerned about Google Glass.

    Will probably have to stop using PIN numbers.

  9. There is another side to there use,maybe to assist those with bad sight.maybe like me trying to read tablets mobiles txt ,see traffic when crossing roads or out walking ,trying to read signs on bus trains or at airports,reading price tickets at supermarkets wihout having to use magnifying glass.
    Yes i can see the concern re misuse but at least it is not like mobile ph looking up females dress ,yes there has to be a code that a purchaser agrees to for the wearing and use. But i can see more positive uses than negitive. I would love to try a set to see if they could assist me getting around and able to fully enjoy life without fair of harassment and safety and of getting around.

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