Through the looking glass...blessing or burden?

Josh Beckett

Google Glass coming out has had some interesting implications to the world of security and forensics.  I thought the QR code vulnerability was certainly unique and akin to the drive-by RFID vulnerabilities that exist.  I'm sure we haven't seen the last of such issues.  Google, of course, says this was all part of their plan to really shake out the bugs and round the rough edges that they didn't foresee.  Is that claim more marketing than truth?  Meh, probably a little of each.  It's a nice idea, but I hardly think that even one thousand hacking oriented techies could even scratch the surface of possibilities for what this technology could potentially deliver, good and bad.  Some interesting use cases have already come about, but I think the best are still to come.

What I find quite interesting about this technology is the possibility for events and incidents of all types to be captured from many unexpected angles.  With some of the recent news about Egypt, I recall one story about a week ago, and sadly, I can't find the specific reference among the volume of info on that topic, where the reporter was talking about having Google Glass on scene. I recall there was something going on like a possible ban on media recording attempting to be enforced and the reporter pondering whether to turn his recording off and worrying about being discovered.  This specific issue aside, reporters seem to be eager to get in on the action

Let's add to that the specter of the ever watchful eyes of three letter organizations and what information they feel they have a right to without public scrutiny over their actions.  The simple fact that most anyone on the internet is only 4.7 hops away from me is pretty scary by itself.  The scenario goes something like this...some horrific event happens at some point in the future and Google Glass is very popular and seemingly turning up everywhere.  Law enforcement says, look Google, we need to subpoena ALL of your GPS records on where all of your customers were during some generally relevant time period.  Someone could have been in the area and caught some details relevant to the case on their device.  I think nearly all of us would agree that, superlatives aside, no big deal, positive use, justice be served.  If some one could have an interesting fact concerning the case, it should be brought forward.  Of course, they won't discard the false positives or even the true negatives, because, who knows, a crime could later be reported in some area that might make that non-responsive information suddenly responsive.  We better keep it all just in case.

Ok, enough conspiracy theory stuff.  What about simple privacy? I found the premise of a similar use of this kind of technology in Minority Report to be quite disturbing.  I really hate ads.  The fact that my GPS location is tracked by my mobile phone apps when I am not notified and consenting bugs me.  You can't possibly understand how I feel that someone else's technology could do so by running a hacked OS on Google Glass and tracking my movements by face recognition makes me feel.  You can be social all you want and check yourself in everywhere you go, that is your right.  Respect my right to opt out.

I'll leave with this one last thought regarding these devices and forensics.  Eventually, forensics will catch up with these things and figure out how to slice their data out like lunch meat at the deli, but what about issues surrounding omission?  Let's say I see with my Google Glass someone I know or like (maybe a political figure) doing something questionable.  Let's further say I use my personal judgement and think that whatever happened wasn't perceived by me to be questionable, but overlooked as benign.  Some organization subpoenas my device, forensically examines it, and determines the device displayed some info that should have clued me in to the questionable behavior.  However, my familiarity with the person caused me to not pay attention to the display and ignore the info.  Could I be held liable for not turning over the information to the authorities?

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!" Jabberwocky, from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871).

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