Have you just splurged £1,000 on Google Glass? If so, you may be tempted to wear your expensive fashion faux pas everywhere in order to show off how much of a [insert appropriate adjective here] you really are.
But one place you won’t be able to wear the headset is in your local cinema.
The UK’s filmhouses won’t allow it you see. Not because they think it is more annoying that popcorn-munching, screaming kids who cannot be controlled by their parents, but rather because they are worried about piracy.
Several movie theatres decided to ban Google’s controversial headgear just six days after it made its debut in Blighty, echoing similar moves in the US.
The fears over piracy are overstated of course – Google Glass can only record about 30-45 minutes of video before the batteries run out – and who in this day and age wants to watch a jerky movie filled with peoples’ heads filmed by a cameraman with a nervous twitch?
Not only that but the device makes no secret about when its active, as described by a Google spokesperson:
“We recommend any cinemas concerned about Glass to treat the device as they treat similar devices like mobile phones: simply ask wearers to turn it off before the film starts. Broadly speaking, we also think it’s best to have direct and first-hand experience with Glass before creating policies around it. The fact that Glass is worn above the eyes and the screen lights up whenever it’s activated makes it a fairly lousy device for recording things secretly.”
But the news does make the point about how technology can often be seen as a threat, especially when it is perceived to threaten the livelihood of big businesses.
Whilst I believe that the way in which cinemas have reacted is somewhat over the top, the situation does demonstrate an effective use of information security – the theatres have obviously assessed a risk to the intellectual property under their control and have put measures in place to mitigate that threat. As long as they have ushers on hand to ensure that their policy of not allowing Google Glass to be deployed within their environment is enforced, they will have successfully protected the data broadcast over the large screen and it will be mission accomplished.
It is a shame, and a reflection on society as a whole, that securing something of financial value is given such a high priority in comparison to protecting privacy rights though.
I’m sure many of you have heard of Glass wearers being referred to as “glassholes” and that derision exists for a reason – wearers of Google’s eyewear can potentially use the device to take pictures and video of people without their knowledge.
Recent research has also discovered how a wearer can capture a PIN code typed onto an iPad from a distance of 3 metres and there is no reason to believe that the device couldn’t snaffle up an ATM PIN just as easily, something which prompted Brian Honan to tell the Register that:
“Devices that can capture images such as camera, mobile phones, PCs, etc. have always posed a threat to sensitive information. Anyone with a device with these capabilities can record sensitive data or capture other information such as PINs or passwords.
People should always be aware of their environment when entering passwords or PIN numbers to ensure they are not overlooked. Even when there is no-one around you should assume that someone could observe what you are doing by cameras with zoom lens, Google Glass, hidden cameras, or indeed CCTV cameras.”
And today a Dutch researcher has demonstrated how an attacker could compromise Google Glass and effectively see through the eyes of the wearer, taking pictures and video, and sending them back to a computer under their control.
Whilst such privacy concerns will undoubtedly be addresses in the not too distant future, they certainly will not be overcome within a mere six days.
Whilst security is undoubtedly important I can only hope that privacy doesn’t become the poor relative when it comes to regulating and controlling new technology and systems.
But I won’t hold my breath – after all, money talks far louder than the man or woman in the street being ogled by a glasshole.