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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] promoting Google Glass?

From: Ted Smith
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] promoting Google Glass?
Date: Tue, 21 May 2013 16:03:39 -0400

On Sun, 2013-05-19 at 13:55 +0200, Michał 'rysiek' Woźniak wrote:
> > The only implication is that now individuals have an easy way
> > to essentially tape a long-running camera to their face. People have
> > been doing that for a long time, and your public life has been
> > constantly surveilled for much longer.
> Boy, how I love the argument of "we're boned anyway, let's stop trying." 
> Sorry, I do not subscribe to this argument, I find it intellectually lacking 
> and an easy way out for anybody that is not looking for a real discussion of 
> this issue.

I never said "let's stop trying." I just said "Google Glass doesn't make
our existing situation worse, just more blatant." The concepts behind
Glass have existing for a long time (there are several people with libre
homebrew equivalents that have been wearing them constantly for decades
now). It adds nothing new but packaging.

We have to keep trying. 

> > Google Glass doesn't take away any privacy. It just makes the existing
> > privacy losses much more blatant.
> And yes, I do have a problem with Google Glass, pushing the envelope one step 
> further. If I ever have a person (friend or foe, regardless) trying to enter 
> my home with Google Glass, I will kindly ask them to leave it outside or just 
> leave.

This is a very head-meets-sand reaction. You (hopefully) interact with
people in public, around other people carrying mobile phones running
proprietary software. Interacting with someone wearing Google Glass
doesn't seem meaningfully different to me. Again, Glass just makes
existing problems more blatant. Reacting as if it imposes new problems
is short sighted and counterproductive.

> > There is no technical solution for this problem. It's not clear if the
> > technological attacker or defender has a clear advantage at the moment,
> > and the arms race will continue for some time.
> Indeed, and there never will be a technical solution to a social problem, 
> especially one as complicated as the privacy/security/personal-
> freedoms/"terrorism" conundrum.

Well, there are some technical solutions:

But it isn't clear whether they're sustainable. Computer vision is a
hard, mostly unsolved problem space, and the ability for computer
systems to perform meaningful surveillance against an active defender
isn't yet known. It's possible that there are algorithms that can get
around things like cvdazzle. It's also possible that there aren't, or
that they're so expensive that cvdazzle is a practical act of asymmetric
warfare against surveillance apparatuses.

> Hence I am not advocating any technical solution. I am advocating
> being 
> sensitive to these issues and choosing endorsements (and putting
> Google Glass 
> in a comic on *is* an endorsement!) wisely and carefully.

Well, you won't get to toe the LibrePlanet line (and I will
give you good odds that doing so is a waste of time for any near-term
time frame), so the only thing you can do is respond in an effective way
in your own media. The question is how.

> > The best social solution for this problem is to attack centralized
> > surveillance, since it seems much more harmful overall than
> > decentralized surveillance. I can't think of any horrible things
> > decentralized surveillance has done, but I can think of several
> positive
> > things it's done (the Rodney King tape and a large number of similar
> > tapes, the Russian meteor footage).
> True. But Google Glass is a step towards *centralised* surveillance.
> Surveillance can be centralised in the hands of a state (as in USSR or East 
> Germany), and that's a case we know and are familiar with.
> Problem is, today more and more surveillance is centralised in the hands of 
> corporations (Facebook, Google, etc.), and because we have no historical 
> situation similar to this, it's hard to assess the risks. I find the risks 
> unacceptable, as I believe that information is power and power corrupts - 
> regardless of whether you exercise this power as a government agent or a 
> corporate entity.
> Of course there is also the case of such corporations giving access to 
> surveillance data to government entities (we all know that's happening, 
> right?), so centralisation in the hands of corporations is indeed de facto 
> centralisation also in the hands of the State. Which we already *know* is 
> dangerous.

Glass probably auto-uploads pictures and videos the user takes to Google
Plus/Youtube. So this is mostly correct. But this is probably a feature
you can disable, and have reasonable trust that checking the "disable
auto-upload" box will result in it not auto-uploading your pictures. Not
even Google can blatantly lie about privacy issues.

The Glass hardware has already been rooted, however -- what happens when
you have Replicant on Glass, or CM on Glass?

The future is clearly trending towards pervasive surveillance. Computing
devices and cameras aren't going to stop getting smaller and cheaper.
Supporting free software *cannot* become synonymous with supporting
luddism, or it loses. This is already dangerously the case.

Sent from Ubuntu

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