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Congress: It's not the Glass that's scary - It's the GOOGLE

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Comment Google Glass is wrapped around the faces of only a few thousand people right now. The company says the device is in very early beta mode. And yet lawmakers in the US have already pounced on the company demanding answers about how the privacy of netizens using the gizmo will be protected.

But it would seem that Congress has missed the point here.

Google is first and foremost an advertising company. It builds technology products which specifically seek revenue from people wanting to promote goods online.

Privacy-by-design, then, is a concept largely ignored by Google. Historically, it has grudgingly slotted such safeguards into its products only after being strong-armed by consumers, NGOs and politicos who question the multinational's data-farming behaviour across the web.

Google derides current law for failing to keep pace with technology, when what its execs appear to mean is that the company ought to have a special place above the law.

Why? Because Google truly believes it is fundamentally reshaping the future.

The ad giant's executive chairman Eric Schmidt has been very open and clear about Google's policy. He once famously said about the idea of Mountain View implanting its tech into people's brains:

There is what I call the creepy line. The Google policy on a lot of things is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it.

More than three years since Schmidt made that observation, Google Glass has arrived and it sits neatly within the parameters of the company's tunnel vision: make money from ads and then firefight privacy concerns after the fact.

The point is not lost on a whole host of high-profile critics of Google's business practices.

Crypto boffin Bruce Schneier recently endorsed a comment made by the Electronic Privacy Information Centre's founder Marc Rotenberg, who noted that Google Glass would be "a lot less scary" if the device was sold by a consumer goods company like Brookstone, rather than a creepy advertising mammoth. ®

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