FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Big Brother Wears Google Glasses

by ALYSSA ROHRICHT

In 2014, for a mere $1,500, you can literally have Big Brother strapped to your retinas. It isn’t marketed that way, of course. Instead, Google Glass is marketed as making “augmented reality” a part of our every day lives. And while Google’s mantra may be “Don’t Be Evil” (though the company’s own morality is questionable at best), you can be assured that the government, the Secret Service, and corporations are chomping at the bit to get ahold of this veritable gold mine of information.

“Imagine your brain being augmented by Google,” Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page said in a 2004 interview. And that’s now something we no longer have to imagine. In a teaser-video for Google Glass, we’re shown the viewer flying an airplane, playing sports, ice sculpting, and playing with a dog, all the while the glasses display the time, the temperature, and incoming phone calls in the upper right view frame of the glasses-wearer. The glasses take instant photos, videos, and even display information from the internet, including translating text and an instant GPS feature.

It is hard not to make the connection between Google Glass and George Orwell‘s Big Brother lurking around every corner of the dystopian novel. In Orwell’s nightmarish future world, Big Brother – via telescreens that can never be turned off – can literally see into every space of the city. He is in your bed room, at work, on the street, and peering down every hallway. With Google Glass, Big Brother won’t need a telescreen and he won’t need to spy on citizens. Instead, citizens will do the spying for him. Google Glass will constantly be gathering real-time information about your every single movement. What you see, what you hear, where you go and how you get there, who you speak with and what about, what you eat, drink, purchase, what you research, what you read on the street and in books and even what you do in the privacy of your home.

Gold mine is an understatement. Advertisers and corporations have been data mining for years, and we already give them most of this information through what we type on search engines, the websites we visit, and even through our smart phones and GPS devices. And they’ve been using that information to target us with tailored advertisements expertly based on our patterns of interests ripped directly from that information. Google Glass doesn’t necessarily do anything new, but it is the ease with which we are offering up our data on a silver platter that is transforming the data mining world. We aren’t just inviting these companies – and furthermore, the government – to view our thoughts, patterns, and consumer habits when we access the web. Now we’re inviting them into our private lives even further and literally placing them at the forefront of everything we do by affixing them directly in front of our faces 24/7.

Obviously, I’m not the first to criticize this new gadget, nor am I the first to see the glaring connection to our impending Orwellian future. Mic Wright writes in The Kernel that “Project Glass is the telescreen made real, strapped directly onto your face, pumping adverts into your retina, encouraging you to perpetually jones for more information in a way that will make today’s Twitter addicts seem slothful and non-reactive.” And it is true. We are not only giving up our last semblances of privacy, we are also succumbing even further to our ever-growing need to be “tapped-in” to the interweb and the endless stream of useless information it offers us.

The ramifications of the ease of accessibility for government and security agencies is even more frightening, especially in the face of the recent Justice Department “white paper” obtained by NBC earlier this month detailing the legal justifications that the Obama Administration has claimed for the targeting and killing of American citizens without trial. The paper was written in an attempt to legitimize the 2011 drone killings of three U.S. citizens in Yemen, including Samir Khan and Anwar al-Awlaki, and later Abdulrahman, al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son. The paper argues that the targeted killings of U.S. citizens are justified and legal under U.S. law if  a threat is “imminent” (though for a specific attack to be imminent does not mean that it must currently be under way at the time), a high-level official has provided evidence that the person in question may be a threat, and if capture is difficult. The incredibly vague memo leaves much room for interpretation, and of course, this is intentional. When questioned about the right to due process under the Constitution, General Eric Holder responded in March of 2012 saying,

Some have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. “Due process” and “judicial process” are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”

Basically, if the Executive Branch says you’re guilty, that’s all the due process you need. Never mind a court, a trial by jury, or the notion that you’re innocent until proven guilty. The word of our government should be all that we require for any legal justifications.

The prospects for the information that Google Glass can provide to our government, which now reserves the right to detain us without charge (under the National Defense Authorization Act) and even immediately and covertly put an order out for our deaths, are terrifying, to say the least.

“In the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance. The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end.”

This dire prophecy is from Orwell’s 1984 and never before has this statement rang so true as today. As Wright wrote in his piece, in a way, Google Glasses are something “grimly inevitable.” It is not surprising that technology and access to the web has finally made the push not just to the tips of our fingertips but literally to right before our eyes at every moment. Not surprising, but worthy of resistance nonetheless.  Wright notes,

“What will be lost with the proliferation of Google glasses, and what will be gained? Project Glass will not materially improve our lives. It will improve Google’s databases and make it easier to sell, sell, sell us more products and services. Ultimately, whatever the utopian rhetoric of Google’s cash-rich, sense-light engineering team, Project Glass will make you the easiest piece of meat to market to in history”

“BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU,” Orwell wrote in 1984. For years, we’ve carried Big Brother around in our pockets, willingly giving up our information on the web and through our phones. Now,  as those in the tech world clamor to be one of the lucky “bold, creative individuals” to get to try out Google Glass for free and before the wide-release, we will lose our last vestiges of privacy. Facecrime is no longer just a term in a book to describe an illegal act given away by a facial expression. Now, it has become our reality – our “augmented” reality.

Alyssa Rohricht maintains Crash Culture and can be reached at aprohricht@msn.com.

Alyssa Röhricht maintains The Black Cat Revolution and can be reached at aprohricht@msn.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail