04 May 2014

Opacity Rights

'Through the looking GLASS: Google GlassTM, privacy, and opacity, with an Israeli law twist' by Arye Schreiber in (2014) 4(1) International Data Privacy Law comments that
 Google GlassTM and other wearable computers pose considerable challenges to existing privacy paradigms and laws. This article examines Glass and its implications for privacy from an Israeli law perspective. The article focuses on privacy of third parties vis-à-vis the Glass user, rather than on the privacy of the user vis-à-vis others or the state. 
Privacy law concerning visual privacy — taking and publishing pictures of others — needs to meet the wearable computing challenge. As wearable computers become ubiquitous, ‘reasonable expectations of privacy’ will change. The law will likewise need to accommodate a new reality in which an inconsequential passing glance becomes a recording saved for posterity, and possibly shared with the world in real-time. The author suggests that there are good grounds for recognizing a Right to Opacity — a right not to be subjected to constant surveillance and photography. 
Eavesdropping law will need to evolve in order to contend with new paradigms of intercepting conversation, including lip-reading and speech-to-text technology. These and other technologies that Glass will feature do not currently fall neatly within eavesdropping and privacy law definitions. 
Regulators and lawmakers around the world have responded inconsistently to Glass, apparently reflecting some fear, confusion, and suspicion. To the extent that regulators and legislators want some sort of consultative or veto rights over new products with privacy implications, that needs to be debated and legislated.
'Privacy in Public: “Google Glass” and “Creepshots”' by Subhajit Basu at BILETA last month considers -
two interrelated issues that we will be confronting since the invention of “Google Glass”. First, the development of a particular technology that is inevitable and sometimes autonomous and, second, potential victims of that innovation. I argue that the expansion of a technology like “Google Glass”, in particular the use of this technology for taking “creepshots”, blurs the line between what is considered public and private. “Creepshots” are covertly taken sexually indicative photographs, mostly of women, which are posted online without consent. In fact, it is the lack of consent that is the crucial component for a photograph to be classified as a “creep shot”. 
Vint Cerf argues that “Google Glass” provides ‘an opportunity to experiment with what happens when you allow a computer to become part of your sensory environment. It sees and hears what you see and hear and it can apply its power and the power of the Internet to make use of information in context.’ In any case a simple act of taking photographs of an individual in a public street (which can be done with a wink while using “Google Glass”) will not by itself engage Article 8(1) of ECHR unless there are aggravating factors. 
It is a trite law to state that the conception of “privacy in public” is amorphous and it is based on a traditional understanding of “reasonable expectation” of privacy. However, the nature of the exposure due to “Google Glass” not only invades an individual’s expectation of privacy, but it also calls into question the traditional definition of privacy and interpretation of that definition. Nevertheless, question also arises as to whether the law protects the “sexualisation” of a female body or part of a body taken out of context. This article further analyses the various challenges for protecting “privacy in public” because of innovations like “Google Glass” and will map out future theoretical directions.