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Seeing through Google’s rose coloured glass darkly

Rob Livingstone | June 14, 2013
Your organisation may have been worried about shadow IT before, but Google Glass will put it on steroids

It's not news that the seemingly never-ending stream of new and disruptive technologies is affecting every facet of society. When innovative, appealing and easy-to-use technologies come on to the market, most of us adopt them almost without hesitation.

You only have to look at the explosive uptake of services such as Facebook, which boasts 1.1 Billion active users a month, to know that.

But our love affair with new technology can leave users exposed and legislators and regulators scrambling for their rule books. Google Glass puts shadow IT on steroids, as potentially it can bypass any internal controls, whether imposed by IT, the CFO, or anyone else for that matter.

The imminent global launch of Google Glass has already raised questions about how this gadget could run roughshod over our right to privacy.

The glasses can provide GPS, make phone calls, search the web, send texts, and take photos and video. It is the last two that have raised eyebrows among privacy regulators who are worried Google Glass wearers will intentionally or accidentally record video and audio conversations without the consent of those being recorded.

How much easier will it be to take photographs of children at the beach, record intimate conversations that could be used to blackmail someone, or breach workplace employee confidentiality contracts?

The impacts on systemic risk within the organisation concerned about protecting trade secrets or critical intellectual property should be obvious to those whose job it is to protect these assets within an organisation.

In a recent bipartisan letter to CEO of Google, Larry Page, the US Congress demanded answers to a range of questions about security and privacy. Google must reply by June 14, 2013.

At the same time, the benefit of technologies that allow people to do things their parents could never imagine possible can't be ignored. A recent National Intelligence Council report, Global Trends 2030 - Alternative Worlds, identified individual empowerment as the No. 1 megatrend over the next 15 to 25 years.

A combination of the progressive reduction in global poverty, increasing levels of education and the continued uptake of information and communications technology is expected to reshape how societies and countries operate.

One glaring positive example of what this could mean was seen in the role engaged and connected digital citizens played in helping track down the Boston Marathon bombers.

Another example is the development in the US of a smartphone app that allows people to scan the barcode on any product. The app traces the product's ownership all the way to the parent company to help consumers make ethical purchasing decisions. Maybe just hold the barcode to your Google Glass and see images of the sweatshop workers in a low cost country!


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