Despite all of the fear mongering about the creep-filled future that Google Glass will bring, Google has made patently clear that it won't let your nightmares totally come true, as evidenced by the company's takedown this week of both the porn and facial recognition apps built for its wearable computer. After lots of very scary privacy stories started popping up (including on the front page of the Times) about very real developer projects, late last week Google updated its developer policies for Glass to include 11 new rules, a company spokesperson confirmed to The Atlantic Wire. And reading through the refreshed list, Google covers pretty much every terrible thing we've heard since Glass hit faces in April.
Google will not let apps to...
- "Collect, store, or share sensitive personal information such as credit card, bank account, driver's license, or Social Security numbers, except as necessary to collect payment." Translation: ...steal your data.
- "Include functionality that proxies, requests, or collects usernames, passwords, or other personal authentication information for Google Accounts." Translation: ...steal more of your data.
- "Use the camera or microphone to cross-reference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print. Applications that do this will not be approved at this time." Translation: ...surreptitiously recognize your face on the street.
- "Disable or turn off the display when using the camera. The display must become active when taking a picture and stay active during a video recording as part of your application." Translation: ...take creep shots.
- "Allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material." Translation: ...do porn.
- "Depictions of gratuitous violence." Translation: ...be gratuitously violent.
- "Allow the promotion of hatred toward groups of people based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity." Translation: ...promote hate speech.
In other words, all those horrible things that the Internet talked about Google Glass (potentially) doing? Yeah, it won't be doing any of those because, plainly, Google won't let it. Even if app developers follow all the rules, Google can change them — this device is in beta mode, after all. The company that made the porn app, for example, said it followed all the rules. "When we first picked up our device, we were very careful to comb through all of Google's terms, policies and developers' agreement to make sure we were playing within their rules. That was important to us to play in Google's boundaries," Jennifer McEwen, co-founder of Mikandi, told ABC News. And perhaps they did — until late last week when Google updated its policies, that is. (Although, a Google spokesperson added: "Glass is built on Android so bringing in some of their existing policies makes sense." So maybe the new rules shouldn't have surprised porn makers.) But with the product still in beta, anything goes, right?
Of course, it's in Google's best interests to make the product it's been talking up as normal and not creepy as possible. (That's why it had Sergey Brin attempt to normalize them by wearing them everywhere.) So, it's not exactly surprising that after all the outrage over porn and the like, Google up and pulled the plug. The device itself — a sci-fi looking piece of face-wear — is already jarring enough as it is.