Monday, December 14, 2009

It's Great And All, But What About My Privacy?

One of Google's core missions is to catalog and categorize the world's knowledge. They are well on their way with their in-depth search products, real-time search, book search, product search and more. But now they want to make it easier for anyone with a camera and a cellphone to know more about, well, whatever is around them.

Introducing Google Goggles. In short, you take a picture of an object and the program returns search results. Want to know more about a restaurant? Take a picture and Google Goggles will tell you the menu, reviews and even automatically dial the number to make reservations. Found a book but want to know more. Take a picture of the cover and Google Goggles will return Amazon reviews and even tell you if you can find it cheaper somewhere else.

Here is the Official Video with some pretty cool examples...

Pretty cool huh?

One what will Google do with all the images submitted? They will have a picture, your cell number (probably) and your location, not to mention other information about you.

Don't get me wrong, I love Google and most all of their products. I exclusively use Google Docs, Google Book search has saved me a few times and I am typing this blog post in Chrome. So Google already knows a lot about me. But do I want them to know more? They say they use the information responsibly and will not sell information or target ads but one has to wonder how long that policy will be in place?

Does all this even matter? With more and more people (myself included) living their lives on the Internet, is privacy even that much of a concern anymore? I could be "googled" and lots of information could be found out about me. So is anything that might be gathered from me using this application any worse?

What about for kids? We teach them to keep their information private, but then use services like Google Docs where Google can see exactly what is in the document (even though they say they aren't looking). This app has great potential in the classroom but shouldn't educators, instead of just taking it at face value, ask questions first?

What do you think?

Note- Google Goggles is only available on phones running the Android Operating System but there are plans to release versions for other phones such as Blackberry and iPhone in the near future.

Update-As you can see in the comments, a kind reader has placed links to the privacy policy for Google Goggles. To you sir or madam, thank you! While that clearly states their policy there is a larger question here. First, do we trust that they will do what they say they will? They have a lot to gain from using that information, but also a lot to lose. There is also the question of privacy in general and what we are teaching our students.

Image from Google Goggles

1 comment:

  1. A description of the Google Goggles privacy and retention policies is linked off of the help site for 'Search History' as 'Learn More':

    The policy itself is here:

    * Location is not stored.
    * IP address is stored for 5 weeks.
    * If you do not have 'Search History' enabled, your images are not stored.