Jayson Veley–If you’ve ever had a strange desire to be watched around the clock and have pictures taken of you and your family even when you least expect it, fear not! Google has got your back!
Back in October of 2017, Google officially announced the launch of Google Clips, a constantly-watching camera that uses artificial intelligence to determine what moments in your everyday life would make a good picture. If the device concludes that something is picture-worthy, then it records a short clip for you – because apparently human beings are now too stupid to decide when to pull out their cameras and take a few snapshots on their own.
If you’re interested in Google Clips and don’t mind being watched for hours every day by a company that already has questionable ethics when it comes to privacy rights, then you can purchase one for $249.
In an article published by Navneet Alang of TheWeek.com in March, Alang asked, “Why is capturing more and more candid images good? It all proceeds on the assumption that the more things we record the better.” He added, “The idea of adding smart cameras, smart speakers, and more to our homes simply increases the sense that all moments are there for recording, and we’ve yet to grapple with not just what it means, but whether or not it’s desirable at all.”
Indeed, the question of whether or not we should be inviting such potentially-intrusive technology into our homes is one that millions of Americans across the country have been asking themselves all throughout the smartphone and smart device era. Many people are no doubt concerned that their privacy rights will be infringed upon, and that the recorded information (such as the clips taken by Google Clips) will be stored and abused. (Related: Android devices are secretly funneling your private location data to Google.)
For what it’s worth, Google has announced that the Google Clips camera can’t be used to spy on individuals who choose to install the device in their homes. “Google Clips is designed specifically with parents and pet owners in mind. It’s a camera and made to be used intentionally to capture more moments – seven-second clips – of the people that are important to you,” explained Google product manager Juston Payne in an interview with VentureBeat. Payne added that Google Clips “doesn’t work well as a ‘set it and forget device,’” and that it simply takes “clear and stable shots” of the people that you have taught it to record – people that “are familiar to you and are smiling.”
If Google didn’t have a history of collecting information without users’ knowledge or consent, then this statement from Juston Payne may very well have been enough to ease the nerves of those who are worried about their privacy rights being infringed upon. However, this is hardly the first time that technology developed by Google has been at the center of controversy. Last November, for instance, the Daily Mail published an article on how Google’s voice assistant is recording and storing your conversations that you have around your phone when you least expect it.
While it’s original purpose is to allow users to use voice commands to search the webs, launch apps and use other interactive functions, it has been revealed that Google keeps copies of clips each and every time you activate the voice assistant. Even background chatter could be enough to trigger this recording, meaning that Google may be storing information even when you don’t know it.
Google has got to do a better job at protecting the privacy rights of their customers; otherwise, the company will continue to find itself at the center of controversy.