Saturday, November 27, 2021

Can Facebook smart glasses care about security and privacy?

Recently, the Facebook-announced Ray-Ban Stories glasses reappeared in the news, featuring two cameras and three microphones.

Facebook has launched a worldwide project, Ego4D, to research new uses for smart glasses.

Ray-Ban Stories glasses record audio and video so users can record their experiences and interactions. The research project aims to add augmented reality features to glasses, potentially including facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technologies that can provide owners with a wealth of information, including the ability to get answers to questions such as “Where did I leave my keys?”

Several other tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Snap, Vuzix, and Lenovo have also experimented with versions of augmented or mixed reality glasses. Augmented reality glasses can display useful information in lenses, providing an electronically enhanced view of the world. For example, smart glasses can draw a line above the road to show you the next turn, or let you see a restaurant’s Yelp rating when you look at its sign.

However, some of the information that augmented reality glasses provide to their users may include identifying people in the glasses’ field of view and displaying personal information about them. Not long ago, Google introduced Google Glass only to face public reaction to simply recording people. Compared to public recording on smartphones, recording with smart glasses is perceived by people as a more serious invasion of privacy.

As a computer security and privacy researcher, I believe it is important for tech companies to exercise caution and consider the security and privacy risks associated with augmented reality.

Smartphones vs smart glasses

While people are now used to being photographed in public, they also expect the photographer to usually raise their smartphone to take a photo. Augmented reality glasses fundamentally violate this sense of normality. The public setting may be the same, but the scale and approach to recording has changed.

Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories glasses let you take photos, videos, and play audio, but the company has much bigger plans for smart glasses, including artificial intelligence that can interpret what the wearer sees.
Courtesy of Facebook

Such deviations from the norm have long been recognized by researchers as a violation of confidentiality. A study by my group found that people in the vicinity of nontraditional cameras want a more tangible sense of when their privacy is violated because they have a hard time knowing if they are recording.

In the absence of the typical physical gestures of photographing, people need more effective ways to convey whether a camera or a microphone is filming people. The European Union has already warned Facebook that the LED indicator that a pair of Ray-Ban Stories is recording is too small.

In the long term, however, people can get used to smart glasses as the new normal. Our research has shown that while young people are worried about others recording their embarrassing moments on their smartphones, they are used to the ubiquitous presence of cameras.

Smart glasses as a means of memory

Smart glasses can be used as a memory aid. If you could record or “livelog” your entire day in first person, you could simply rewind or scroll through the video as you like. You can watch the video to see where you left your keys, or you can play the conversion to remember a friend’s movie recommendations.

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In our study, we studied volunteers who wore cameras to record lifeloggers for several days. We found several privacy issues – this time for the camera owner. Given who or what algorithms may have access to the video footage from the camera, people may be worried about the detailed portrait she paints them.

Who you meet, what you eat, what you watch, and what your living room really looks like without guests are all recorded. We found that people were particularly concerned about the recording locations, as well as the screens of their computers and phones, which made up a significant part of their lifelogging history.

The popular media have already realized what can go wrong with such memory aids. The Black Mirror episode “Your Whole Story” shows how even the most random arguments can lead people to dig into the journals of life in search of evidence of exactly who said what and when. In such a world, it is difficult to just move on. This is a lesson about the importance of forgetting.

Psychologists have pointed out the importance of forgetting as a natural human mechanism for overcoming trauma. Maybe artificial intelligence algorithms can be used well for identifying digital memories that need to be removed. For example, our research developed artificial intelligence-based algorithms to detect sensitive areas such as bathrooms, computer screens and phone screens, which were high on the list of alarms in our study of lifeloggers. Once detected, the footage can be selectively removed from a person’s digital memories.

X-ray characteristics of the digital self?

However, smart glasses can do more than just record video. It is important to prepare yourself for the fact that smart glasses can use facial recognition, analyze facial expressions, search and display personal information, and even record and analyze conversations. These apps raise important questions about privacy and security.

We studied the use of smart glasses by people with visual impairments. We found that these potential users were concerned about the inaccuracy of artificial intelligence algorithms and their ability to mislead other people.

Even if they were accurate, they felt it wrong to draw conclusions about someone’s weight or age. They also wondered if it is ethical for such algorithms to guess someone’s gender or race. Researchers are also debating whether AI should be used to detect emotions that can be expressed in different ways by people from different cultures.

Improving Facebook’s outlook for the future

I’ve only scratched the surface of privacy and security for augmented reality glasses. As Facebook moves forward with augmented reality, I think it is very important for the company to address these issues.

[Over 115,000 readers rely on The Conversation’s newsletter to understand the world. Sign up today.]

I am encouraged by the stellar list of privacy and security researchers that Facebook has partnered with to ensure that its technology is trustworthy to the public, especially given the company’s recent track record.

But I can only hope that Facebook will proceed with caution and ensure that their vision for the future takes into account the concerns of these and other privacy and security researchers.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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