TLJ News from April 11-15, 2014

Consumer Watchdog Condemns Google Glass as Privacy Invasive

4/15. The Consumer Watchdog (CW) released a report [6 pages in PDF] that condemns Google Glass for the threats that it poses to privacy and public safety.

The CW report offers this product description: "Google Glass is a wearable computing device worn like eyeglasses that includes a camera and a high-resolution display screen that is the equivalent of a 25-inch high definition screen from eight feet away. It connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi or through a smart phone via Blue tooth."

Google's web page titled "About Glass" offers this product description: "Glass is an elegant and beautifully designed lightweight frame and display that rests neatly above your eyes and makes exploring and sharing the world around you faster and easier."

The CW report states that "Google Glass users can easily photograph and video people without bothering to seek permission. Unlike a smartphone where it is obvious that a person's image is being captured and the subject can object, there is no simple indication to bystanders that Glass is taking photos or videos of them. Simply put, Google Glass is a stalkerís dream come true."

"Consider the possibility of a pedophile wondering around a park or playground capturing images of kids at play and sharing those images over the Internet."

The CW added in a release, "Say goodbye to using public bathrooms."

The CW report adds that "our tests of the device demonstrated how easily it could be used to surreptitiously capture a person's PIN when they use an ATM."

"Another real privacy concern that Google Glass poses is that the device could be used in conjunction with facial recognition software to identify people the user sees." The CW report elaborates that "The fact is that facial recognition software has already been developed for Google Glass and installed on some devices. Google is merely saying that it wonít make the facial recognition apps available through its official Glassware store, but there is nothing to stop apps developers from making it available. Nor, is there any indication that Google wonít make it available fairly soon."

The CW report also states that Google Glass "poses substantial risks to the user's own privacy."

"When the wearable computing device is tied to the Internet through a Bluetooth connection to the user's smartphone and to the userís Google+ account Google knows the userís geo-location and has access to the data on the account." The CW report adds that under Google's Terms of Service, "Google claims the
right to whatever it wants with your material."

More News

4/15. The Department of Commerce's (DOC) National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released its draft document [255 pages in PDF] titled "NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 3.0". This is also known as NIST SP 1108R3. The deadline to submit comment is 5:00 PM on May 30, 2014. See, NIST April 16 release, and notice in the Federal Register, Vol. 79, No. 72, April 15, 2014, at Page 21210.

Guardian and Washington Post Receive Pulitzer Prizes for Coverage of Edward Snowden's Disclosures

4/14. The Columbia University announced the award of its 98th Annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism. It awarded its prize for public service journalism to the Guardian and the Washington Post for their news stories based upon disclosures by Edward Snowden regarding widespread surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and others.

It stated in a release that it award one prize "to The Guardian US for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy".

It awarded a second prize "to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security".

The Columbia University also stated its criteria: "For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material".

Glenn Greenwald was the lead reporter for the Guardian on this topic.

People and Appointments

4/11. President Obama nominated Sylvia Burwell to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. If confirmed by the Senate, she will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who announced her resignation on April 10. See, White House news office release. Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

4/11. The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) approved the nominations of Stanley Bastian (EDWash), Manish Shah (NDIll), Daniel Crabtree (DKan), Cynthia Bashant (SDCal), and Jon Levy (DMaine).