“Stop the Cyborgs” launches campaign against Google Glass

by: J. Angelo RacomaMarch 23, 2013

Google Glass ban

It’s not as if Google Glass is the apocalyptic “Mark of the Beast,” but if everyone starts wearing them, then it might suddenly become cause for worry. A London-based group called “Stop the Cyborgs” thinks that Glass is currently a niche product, but if it turns out to be very popular, then we should really think hard about privacy considerations.

If you’ve followed our earlier report about several establishments banning the use of Google Glass, you might be familiar with the “No Glass” logo that shop owners have started putting up. This particular design, which has caught on in the media, was created by the London-based group composed of three twenty-something graduate students. Their basic premise is that Google Glass is a threat to privacy.


“If it’s just a few geeks wearing it, it’s a niche tool [and] I don’t think it’s a problem,” said Adam, one of the members, in a statement to Ars Technica. “But if suddenly everyone is wearing it and this becomes as prevalent as smartphones—you can see it becomes very intrusive very quickly. It’s not about the tech, it’s about the social culture around it.”

Google’s main business model, after all, involves the use of big data and monetizing these through advertising. And with location-tracking, increasingly sophisticated facial recognition software, persistent data and smartphones on almost any person, then the addition of Google Glass would mean the search giant can keep track of anyone’s movements anywhere, and even associate these with their identity.

It becomes an even scarier proposition when you consider that Glass can theoretically start recording even without the user asking it to — at least during the beta stage, in which Glass was seeded to developers.

Still, the group does admit that Glass does have its upsides, especially in assistive technology. For instance, developers are now trying to turn Glass into a seeing-eye device for blind individuals. As such, Stop the Cyborg says that it asks “that if you do ban Google Glass and similar devices from your property that you also respect the rights of such people and do not prevent them from using assistive devices if the data remains within the control of the individual.”

The age of wearable computing has already come. The question is how much it will change human behavior. True enough, the same concerns have been made about camera-phones before. However, Glass “lowers the transaction costs of taking photos and videos,” says law professor Woodrow Hartzog. With Glass, a person does not need to hold a digital camera or smartphone against your face. Just by simply looking at you, they can already be checking you out through AR, and Google, in turn, could already be associating information with you.

Should this be a big concern?

  • Liam O’Donnell

    Hmm, it smacks a bit of look at me for a few seconds!
    Plus if you know anything about the UK and London in particular, it has the most CCTV per person/square km in the world. What do these twenty-somethings think these cameras do? Personal privacy is all but gone already and as a Google user, even more so. I think these guys are fighting a battle they’ve already lost!

    • vampyren

      My thought exactly. They should start with their own government but maybe they realize there is little point to fight the big boys :)

  • Mihaits

    As if google glass was the first device to be able to record video… Seriously??? Even glasses with built in video cameras have existed for a while

    • John Young

      Yes but they’re not that popular, the problem is if everyone starts wearing glass we will have a lot less privacy

      • If…imagine…ban. That is quite a convenient process that seems to only work by the function of lobbying. What makes for effective lobbies…ask or examine one…the NRA is the most relevant high profile lobby today…effective enough to de-romanticize the wave of empathy surrounding 26 dead 6 year olds of Sandy Hook while feeding a frenzy of irrationality and fear about threats to people’s rights. At this point, we’ll just get into the hypothetical back and forth where fantasy and fear are bedfellows.

        • John Young


          • Appropriate response…don’t think, just follow. Lol.

    • Pete

      Correct. It’s not the first mobile device to record video. Rather, it is the first widely available, consumer-friendly mobile device to record video *without other people being aware of it*. This IS a vaild privacy concern.

  • oli72

    don’t waste readers time with no substance articles about privacy. if you is doing something wrong of course you have a problem with privacy.

    • David Brymer

      what a great point you have made……………………..NOT, so you wouldnt mind being filmed by total strangers. MUPPET

    • David Brymer

      what a great point you have made……………………..NOT, so you wouldnt mind being filmed by total strangers. MUPPET

  • toni306945

    F*** Haters

    • MasterMuffin

      As you can clearly see, they aren’t haters. F*** them still though :D

  • Society simply scrambles non stop for ways to control other people’s lives, and it’s sickening. The privacy angle is a joke…WHAT PRIVACY??? There are plenty more worthy objects and entities to target as threats to privacy. But as long as you’re not threatening somebody’s guns or Big Gulps in America, you don’t get the big money effort to push back.

    • This is ridiculous. All I’m readying is “you don’t have privacy anyway so accept more infringements.”

      That’s like saying “hey, just walk into the pit. They’ve already killed a few million of us. Why stop there”.

      Imagine 50% of NY, walking around with this thing on. You’re walking outside, slip and fall on some ice with a bunch of grocery bags. Glass on a strangers face detects the debacle and auto records. You have a Google account so it know who you are and the user posts the clip on YouTube and other social outlets with you tagged. You’re now trending as a clown due to the fall.

      That’s just one use case.

      • lean6

        Imagine if you had 2 bungholes instead of just one. Lol. It’s just like I said in a different post…you can accomplish a lot by targeting fear and fantasy…that’s what lobbyists do. Just like every other hot lobby topic seemingly about inanimate objects, this boils down to dictating and controlling people’s behavior. Your fears aren’t about glasses…they’re insecurities about people. I just want a pair of glasses! If they equip them with lethal lasers, or if they emit a second hand cancer causing toxin, we’ll talk about how you feel about my glasses later. Lol.

      • dogulas

        The public will never, ever, ever accept the possibility of Google using everyone’s google accounts to recognize people. Just not going to happen.
        If everyone has these though and does what you suggest, minus the facial recongition, there will be literally 1,000,000 videos of people falling posted every day, so no one will care about that individual unless it’s absolutely spectacular. Same as today. Not everyone can be on the front page.

      • dogulas

        Also, “walking into the pit” and being killed is a little different than not having complete privacy in public streets.

  • Komeil Karimi

    I wonder how many of these twenty somethings have iPhones in their pockets and as fanboys are just ranting about a Google product

    • Vboom

      Calm down mate, iPhone user (and probably fanboy) here that can’t wait to get my hands on Glass. It is lightyears ahead of what apple sound like they are doing with their watches and as a motorbike rider Glass sounds awesome. Please keep your close minded argument to yourself.

      • Komeil Karimi

        Keep your pants on. Didn’t say anything about all iOS users, said I wonder how many of the critics who clearly have only a dubious argument are acting on fanboy fanaticism not merit

  • colorize

    then just simply remove that camera from Google Glass.
    is that hard ?
    is Google Glass stop functioning without camera ?

  • wm snyder

    so you would put this tech in the hands of the gov. and make laws that will later give big gov. the go ahead. you are already being film everyday in the name of security and national security. so wake up and realize. Today people are being arrested for taking pictures of police actions and they are taking your mobile devices from you just for a routine traffic ticket just to give them more info about you without warrant or cause!! So Google Glass is a good thing not a bad thing for the people your concern is missed placed.

  • Flipping Idiots

    Want privacy? Wear IR strobes.



  • Joaquim Amado Lopes

    There is a much better argument against Google Glass than privacy (which, as has been stated, is gone): Google Glass makes you look like a douche.

    And if you wear them all the time (like those 2 early adopters that went to a bar wearing Google Glass and it wasn’t even on), you need to check with your doctor to up your medication (to a straitjacket, perhaps?).

  • brady

    No, it shouldn’t be a concern. Let it happen.

  • Peter

    I can understand their concerns – but come on people…you are under CONSTANT CCTV surveilance everywhere you go… this doesn’t bother you, but Google Glass does ? Silly.

  • hahahahha

    now that’s why you have to get a Glass too. (to spy them back)

  • Gaurav Sharma

    fuck u man. if anybody has to make a video, he will simply do it by a camera..assholes!

  • Totally agree with it. Even not that much for the privacy. We are raising generation of idiots. F***ing enjoy your life and stop “living” in your tech.

    • CyBrix_21

      Maybe watch some videos on how Google Glass helps people in their daily lives…

      Those things are not permanent, you can remove them if you want your what-so-called “enjoy your life”…

      Now, if you want to have some help, Google Glass is there for you…

      • I’m pointing out the fact that 90%+ of people would rather look on their smartphone (or glasses in this case) for simple info than to ask someone something on street. We’re losing human interaction.

        • CyBrix_21

          Well… That is a problem for a long time…

          Well, Glass has advantages and disadvantages… It is not the glass that has a problem, it is us that make our decisions whether to ask someone or not…

          I agree that we need human interaction, especially today…

  • In my opinion its easier to take a “spy” photo of someone with a phone than with a Google Glass that is VOICE ACTIVATED.
    These people are just being silly and i bet majority of them will war Google Glass in near future. =)

  • CyBrix_21

    Those are the people who are afraid to the advances of technology…

    • But they also present legitimate concerns. I’ve written about the tradeoffs here: http://www.brentpeters.me/wp/2013/03/2674

      • CyBrix_21

        It is not the technology that has a problem, it is us who use it…

        Technology is good in the first place… But people sometimes use it in bad things…

        We must use our minds in using it… We must know what is good and what is bad…

        • Exactly. Technology is just a tool. What we need is a new social contract to govern its use.

  • Uffe_Malmo

    Since I dont live in the States this little funny test is pointless, u simply cannot effectively sue people where I live.
    So I encourage someone over there to try this:
    U need to be using glasses normally for this to work.
    Get a pair of Google glasses with prescription glass. Any old school optician should be able to fit the prescribed glass to your Google frame.
    Walk into the mentioned bar wearing your prescribed Google glasses. When approached, politly state that they are prescribed and you need them to see. If they insist, take them off and order something in the bar.
    Have an accident the more drama the better, knock over a few tables while you are at it. Then fall over and Yell for someone to call an ambulance.
    Have a friend film this using an iphone (they are probably allowed).
    Sue the barowner and dont forget to give me 25%.

  • Totally agree with their opinion, but F*** them we want the GLASS,

  • Jeff Weatherup

    I actually agree with this. For as much as I love technology, imagine a world in which anyone, anywhere, anytime can take a picture by just looking at something. Go to an art gallery? Boom, you have a picture. Some creep is out and about, taking pictures of random women. Someone sits on a park bench and scopes out potential houses to rob. At least someone with a camera or phone would look suspicious after a while. We’re creating a world in which you literally would have absolutely no control over how many pictures of you and your ideas are floating around. This would make copyright infringement RAMPANT. It’s a stalker’s/robber’s/creep’s dream! This would eliminate privacy almost in its entirety. I love technology and innovation, but the thought of the majority of people walking around with these abilities is downright frightening. Now, obviously for the disabled, G-Glass can be wonderful….I just don’t think it should be in the hands of everyone.

  • Absolutely things to consider. The future is coming faster than we think. I’ve written about the challenge here: http://www.brentpeters.me/wp/2013/03/2674

  • gommer strike

    So they’re totally against google glass but carrying a smartphone around which surreptitiously records their location, browsing history, apps, contact info/address book is all well and good.

    way to go kids