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Technology informs privacy. This is the lesson we relearn every time a company puts out a new product that changes the way we interact with the world and each other. The recent disclosure of Google’s filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office last year for a contact-embedded “image capture component” (read: camera) caused a flurry of commentary by privacy hawks and tech fans alike.

This raises the question: if the contacts are invisible to others so that it’s impossible to know if someone is wearing them, how can you know if they are being used to record you without your consent? Traditional cameras and smartphones require the user to obviously point and click to take a picture, giving you the opportunity to get out of the frame if you do not wish to be photographed. Even Google Glass wearers are obtrusive enough that they provide notice to those around them that they might get recorded. In contrast, Google Contacts would provide no such notice to others. Someone wearing Google Contacts would be free to snap away, and those around them would be completely oblivious. These issues continue to draw a bright line between those understandably worried about the privacy concerns the futuristic contacts will impinge, and those excited about the more positive potential applications of the new mini cameras.

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