Smash the Surveillance State Google Glass!

Theron-Trowbridge-Foter-CC-BY-NCTheron-Trowbridge-Foter-CC-BY-NCSarah Slocum, a tech writer in San Francisco, claims she was harassed and attacked at a bar last weekend for wearing and operating Google Glass. The Los Angeles Times reports:

"I got verbally and physically assaulted and robbed last night in the city, had things thrown at me because of some ... Google Glass haters," [Slocum] wrote. She got the Google Glass back but was allegedly robbed of her purse and phone.

One witness later told a television station that some in the crowd were "just rather insulted that someone thinks it's OK to record them the entire time they're in public."

This altercation is reminiscent of two events.

In 2009, a.k.a., the pre-Glass Stone Age, Canadian filmmaker Robert Spence decided to make a documentary about surveillance, and used a small camera implanted in his prosthetic eye to film it. He said at the time, "In Toronto there are 12,000 cameras. But the strange thing I discovered was that people don't care about the surveillance cameras, they were more concerned about me and my secret camera eye because they feel that is a worse invasion of their privacy."

In 2012, an individual known only as “Surveillance Camera Man” began filming random people in Seattle and they consistently flipped out.

Unsurprisingly, people don't like to be watched and recorded. "Glassholes” and other strangers with cameras make people nervous. Yet, as Spence observed, it seems like this fear doesn't extend to the massive, invasive surveillance state.

A recent Reason-Rupe poll found that people trust the IRS more than they trust Facebook. Instead of pushing back against surveillance, a whopping 85 percent of writers are worried that the government is watching, prompting many among them to self-censor, according to a PEN American Survey. This week, a security executive lambasted members of the tech community for be passively accepting malacious government action. 

It's certainly an interesting quirk that people lash out against individuals like Slocum and Spence–but collectively shrug while various government agencies at all different levels record virtually every law-abiding citizen everyday in the form of warrantless wiretapping, surveillance cameras on private propertylicense plate reading, spying through computer webcams and microphonesmail logging, domestic drone use, infiltrating peace advocacy groups, and facial recognition systems to name a few practices and tactics.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • sloopyinca||

    Are there really any winners in this story?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Camera companies?

  • JW||

    You could already be a winner.

  • Free Society||

    You could already be a winner.

    But we'll never know because the only way to find out is to log onto a website and give them a special code and my email address. /post-2000 contest

  • ||

    Glaziers?

  • BSubversive.com||

    The federal government is this mammoth, huge, nasty goliath that I can't easily smack. The glasshole in the bar on the other hand, is right there, I've had a couple of drinks, I'm pissed at the feds but they aren't in the bar, the glasshole is, so gets to experience my rage?

    The fact that people trust the IRS more than facebook is disturbing, how many people has facebook locked up in a cell? Uh, yeah, none. So what are people afraid of exactly? I can ignore facebook, if I ignore the IRS they put me in chains and lock me away.

  • ||

    One witness later told a television station that some in the crowd were "just rather insulted that someone thinks it's OK to record them the entire time they're in public."

    Recording someone at a place like a bar is a dickish thing to do, but apparently people in San Francisco aren't civilized enough to deal with it like rational adults.

    Maybe complain to the proprietor or ask the person to stop if it's bothering you?

  • playa manhattan||

    Her friend threw the first punch.

    Molotov is a nasty bar. She was stupid to pull this shit in the first place. Like Sloopy said, there are no winners.

  • Invisible Finger||

    I think we mentioned this before a few weeks back about the college students who flipped out over someone taking still photos of them with no care in the world about all the surveillance cameras covering the exact same ground.

  • JW||

    A recent Reason-Rupe poll found that people trust the IRS more than they trust Facebook.

    A study that they promptly postd to their wall.

  • ||

    While the IRS vs. Facebook thing is weird, I can completely understand the notion that a human in front of you filming you is far worse than thousands of surveillance cameras all around.

    The surveillance cameras and their operators are faceless, nameless, obscure, and in all likelihood utterly uninterested with what is happening on the thousands of cameras.

    This person in front of you, on the other hand, is recording something for some reason that he has the personal bandwidth to watch later. Who does that in polite company?

  • BSubversive.com||

    It's only going to get worse. People feel powerless to change the surveillance state and that frustration will be unleashed upon perfectly innocent people who happen to be conveniently within reach. It's not rational. It's not right, but as this story shows, it's still going to happen.

  • Sevo||

    "Who does that in polite company?"

    Not many, but I'm sure in the sort of company she was keeping, people do. Anyone with a decent phone can take vids.

  • Acosmist||

    And if they take the vids, they piss people off. hth

  • ||

    Indeed. And I can think of only three occasions when it is polite to pull out your phone and to start to film people:

    1. When you are among friends.

    2. When you are afraid the people are going to screw you over -- e.g., state agents -- and you want a record of it.

    3. When you have asked for explicit permission.

    Otherwise, I would think it pretty damn impolite to walk around filming people.

  • Sevo||

    "Otherwise, I would think it pretty damn impolite to walk around filming people."

    Agreed. I do not like cameras, period. If someone asks, I decline. If someone is taking pics, I get out of the view.

  • playa manhattan||

    Are you CIA (or OSS)?

  • sloopyinca||

    Maybe he's just ugly.

  • ||

    He's a bit old-fashioned. He thinks these things will steal his virtue.

  • Paul.||

    OSI if he's a real badass.

  • Sevo||

    Tough crowd!

  • flye||

    4. WOOOOOORLD STAAAARRRR !!!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Dooooom

  • Paul.||

    She got the Google Glass back but was allegedly robbed of her purse and phone.

    Wow, she did get screwed.

  • Paul.||

    "In Toronto there are 12,000 cameras. But the strange thing I discovered was that people don't care about the surveillance cameras, they were more concerned about me and my secret camera eye because they feel that is a worse invasion of their privacy."

    This is what I call the Tulpa Effect.

    People are fine with a seamless network of government cameras which can quite literally follow you home and in the right circumstances, even peer inside your home or apartment after you've entered.

    But when you ask those same people if they'd be ok with a police officer holding a handicam and following you around town, they almost always say, "No."

    Public security cameras operated by the state leverage police power, and we never have to worry about the latter because it's not practical to have a 1:1 police/citizen ratio.

  • Stimpy's Invention||

    "This is what I call the Tulpa Effect."

    Cool strawman, bro.

  • VicRattlehead||

    Sounds like the statists apologist got a new screen name.

  • Stilgar||

    there is a big difference between the nsa, a private firm (the bar) maintaining security cams which are most likely ownly used in the event of theft or criminal activity (assault), and an individual recording events.

    Most sec. cams are overhead and even the best aren't that great. Someone using google glass has eye level video and audio of better quality. If someone sat there with a hand held cam and filmed everyone (randomly) in the bar for an hour, think anyone would get pissed? Are they going home and jackin off to it? Are they uploading it to youtube?

  • Ornithorhynchus||

    'It's not being watched that irks people - it's whose doing the watching.'

    WHO'S!!!! Not Whose!

  • Dread Pirate Roberts||

    I'm a San Francisco resident and I have some familiarity with the bar in question. There's a strong anarchist vibe and I wouldn't say that the clientele is lacking for a healthy anti-authoritarian ethos. It's not at all uncommon for fights to break out there. If I owned a set of Google glasses and I wanted to show them off, Molotov wouldn't be at the top of my list of places to do it.

  • Stimpy's Invention||

    "There's a strong anarchist vibe...It's not at all uncommon for fights to break out there."

    Heh.

  • dinkster||

    I heard on the grape vine she was being a belligerent drunk up in people's grill, she left her purse and phone unattended, and the theft was unrelated to the glass incident.

  • Stimpy's Invention||

    It's funny when the tables get turned and non-cops assert their "rights" not to be recorded in public.

  • VicRattlehead||

    Its funny when you put rights in quotation marks like we should all be subjected to surveillance then put it on a Libertarian themed web page.
    the state are the ones with "Rights"
    The people are born with the right

  • Stimpy's Invention||

    "like we should all be subjected to surveillance"

    You don't read good. The article documents the adventures of a private citizen who got roughed up for recording people in a public place. The "surveillance" in question was not by the hated state, but by a private individual.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If, as every libertarian knows, cops are citizens just like normal folk -- normal folk who shouldn't get any special privileges -- then why is is OK to record cops (citizens) in public but not other citizens who are not cops? Do those citizens have the right to beat up another citizen because she is "surveilling" them? Seems to me that you want a double standard when it comes to citizens vs. other citizens (who happen to be cops).

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement