This past week Steve Mann from the MIT Technology Review wrote an article titled Wearable Technology as a Human Right. I took umbrage with the article. Mann is well known in the Wearable Media arena because he founded MIT’s wearable computer project more than 20 years ago.
His argument centers around the idea that wearable media is not just a matter of fashion, but also of function, which means it should be a human right for people to use this media wherever and whenever they want. He’s not writing about the Nike’s FuelBand fitness tracker he’s writing about technology that helps people recognize faces or serves as a memory aid. He’s concerned that people who use this technology, let’s say Google Glass, to help them are being banned from certain places.
Though he doesn’t mention this specifically in several states casinos are banning people from wearing Google glasses. The idea is that the glasses would help poker or card players cheat while playing the game. This may seem harmless, but he asks what about people who are wearing the glasses in a bar or restaurant and get kicked out because of the technology? He writes that …we must balance [people’s] rights with their desire to allow other people privacy and confidentiality.
Here’s the so what – he and I differ. I agree there must be a fine line between privacy and freedom to wear what you choose, but with Edward Snowden’s admission of NSA spying when are we, citizens, going to get a break? I think I have a right to walk into a store, restaurant, or spa and have some expectation I won’t be recorded by individuals. I have accepted that these places are recording me just in case I steal something, but I’m not ready for some random guy to record me selecting Wheaties over Bran flakes in my local grocery store.