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Re: [libreplanet-discuss] promoting Google Glass?

From: Michał 'rysiek' Woźniak
Subject: Re: [libreplanet-discuss] promoting Google Glass?
Date: Sat, 25 May 2013 19:13:59 +0200
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Hi again,

Dnia wtorek, 21 maja 2013 o 22:03:39 Ted Smith napisał(a):
> 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.

The huge difference here is similar to the difference between a CCTV in a 
local shop (not being a part of a larger chain), accessible only to the shop's 
owner, and a network of connected CCTVs throughout a city accessible to a 
single entity (corporation, government agency, law enforcement).

This is where change in quantity indeed means a change in quality. The shop 
owner cannot in any meaningful way surveil me with his single CCTV. The huge 
entity with their huge network of CCTVs can (and will).

Same with Google Glass vs. homebrew solutions. Google Glass is controlled to a 
large extent by a single entity (Google) that is more than happy to extend 
their services to other large entities (law enforcement, government agencies).

This is not "some guy with a camera". This is "some guy with a camera that you 
have no idea if is recording or not, nor if the recording is being at the same 
time streamed to a large corporation that makes their business by selling 
people's private data further, while being very cooperative with law 

And this makes a world of change.

> We have to keep trying.

Indubitably, happy we agree here.

> > > 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.

I disagree. If anybody is trying to record me with a smartphone they either 
are away and the video quality is not that great, or close and I can clearly 
notice that I am being recorded.

Google Glass has no outside indication if it is recording or not. I have no 
way of discerning if it indeed is recording me at a given time or not. Plus 
all of the above.

That makes the change substantial and dangerous.

> > > 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:

And this is a technical solution to which social problem, exactly?

That is a very interesting happening, making a point in an interesting way. 
Still, it is not by any means a "solution" of any social problem.

Unless you're talking about something else than "let's 3d-print all Mark 
Zuckerberg's data available on-line", which is what I see on that website.

If so, I am guessing your idea was to point to something that makes it harder 
for computer systems to find and recognize faces in images. Still, this is 
only a tool, a neat hack, and by no means a solution to a social problem of 
pervasive surveillance.

> 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.

I do not accept the premise that from now on I should be an "active defender" 
if I wish to preserve my privacy! Similarly as I would not accept that for 
example I should be an "active defender" (using technical means) to preserve 
my freedom of speech and other basic human rights.

> 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.

That is all beside the point. The real point being: we should have our right 
to privacy protected, we should not agree to measures that introduce pervasive 
surveillance, we should recognize centralised surveillance as dangerous and 

Google Glass is one (important and big) step towards pervasive surveillance of 
every aspect of our lives. Such a situation, when combined with an ideology, 
had a name: totalitarianism.

And I'm not ok with any part of that definition coming to a town near me.

> > 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.

First I am checking if I'm alone in this, or not. Apparently not. Then I am 
getting my arguments in order and good shape -- this e-mail is part of just 
that. Finally, I use any means at my disposal to contact about it, 
get their comment and send it all out as widely as possible.

You are welcome to join me.

> > > 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.

Oh really? What if there is a small text somewhere in the TOS saying "Google 
reserves the right to upload images, videos and other media created with 
Google Glass at their discretion to their services solely for advertising 
purposes"? Is that blatant? Is that a lie?

Will anybody read that? Will any Google Glass user care? I don't think so. 
Still, the fact of the matter would be that everything recorded on Google 
Glass would get uploaded to Google and used therein.

Look at Siri! this is EXACTLY what happens, every single thing you say to Siri 
gets *uploaded* to Apple. Who's to say that this will not be the case with 
Google Glass media?

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

I have less problems with that. This does not lead to such centralisation of 

> 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.

That is a false dichotomy.

"You either can have smaller communication equipment, or privacy, no other 
options, as smaller communication equipment *means* pervasive surveillance".

This is clearly not true. My Nokia N900 is not a surveillance device, although 
it is quite miniaturized. It is not a surveillance device, because I do not 
run closed source software on it and because services I use are not 

I am not an enemy of technology. I am an enemy of centralisation of 
information and surveillance. I don't have much problems with Google Glass-
like devices as long as there is a reasonable expectancy of privacy (which is 
sorely lacking in case of a device tied to centralised services of Google) and 
as long as the device makes it clear when it is recording.

I *want* miniature communication technology that makes my life better. Not 
*worse*. Calling me a luddite on these grounds is disingenuous at best - just 
as calling you a "totalitarianist" on grounds of your argumentation, wouldn't 
you agree?

Anywhoo, these two talks are very on-topic and well argued: /Eben Moglen /Cory Doctorow

Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Fundacja Wolnego i Otwartego Oprogramowania

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