Woman claims to have been attacked for wearing Google Glass

Filed Under: Featured, Google, Law & order, Privacy

Sarah Slocum. Image courtesy of Facebook.Glass haters, stop it. It's gone too far.

Yes, we understand how noxious it is that some glassholes' sense of entitlement exceeds their common courtesy when it comes to stapling a computer to their head and walking around public places, ogling everyone within eyeshot and thereby trampling over their privacy.

Yes, it's great fun to scorn Glass users - those whom Google would love for us to giddily dub "explorers".

But the scorn has now gone too far, having evolved into what might be the first violent action taken against a Glass wearer.

Sarah Slocum, a social media consultant, on Saturday posted on her Facebook page about being attacked, in a bar called Molotov in San Francisco, over her face contraption.

(You'll note that, lamentably, Slocum's page is not private. Ms. Slocum, we should talk about Facebook privacy settings - please start by reading Naked Security's tips on staying safe on Facebook.)

Her post:
Post on Sarah Slocum's Facebook page

OMG so you'll never believe this but... I got verbally and physically asaulted [sic] and robbed last night in the city, had things thrown at me because of some [removed] Google Glass haters, then some *bleeeeeeeeeep* tore them off my face and ran out with them then and when I ran out after him his *bleeeeeeep* friends stole my purse, cellphone walet [sic] and everything.

Slocum managed to retrieve her Glass, but so far, she says, no luck in getting her other belongings back.

She shared some of her Glass footage with KRON 4 which shows numerous people shielding themselves from the video, a girl saying "you're killing the city" and a towel being thrown in her direction, as well as a man making a grab for the device on her face.

But wait, Glass haters will say.

Was it ok for Slocum to be capturing the video footage in a public place? Did the bar she was at allow filming, via any mode, whether it be cellphone, camera or Glass?

You'll remember the mind-numbingly rude behavior of Nick Starr, the infamous glasshole who got kicked out of a local 24-hour diner for wearing Google Glass and giving the place a dish of attitude when he was told to de-glassify himself.

Starr not only took exception to the diner's laudable insistence that he take his Glasses off but also went on a glassholic rant on Facebook to urge that the staff member who told him where to stick his Glass should be sacked.

Starr was easy to seethe at. He was the epitome of the type of user - excuse me, "explorer" - that spurred Google to recently publish its etiquette guide for Glass.

But was Slocum as glassy as that? It doesn't sound that way.

Right before she was attacked, she said, she was showing the gadget to someone who had what is very likely a common reaction: namely, curiosity. Slocum was letting her inquisitor try on Glass and giving him or her a demonstration.

That's actually what Google recommends that Glass wearers do: be polite, respectful and helpful in the face of inevitable curiosity.

(I mean, duh - it's just good marketing. Who's going to get warm and fuzzy about Glass if all they encounter are glassholes who won't give them the time of day [or the ingredients for their cocktail, or whatever else Glass wearers can give people, for that matter].)

Slocum's hoping this doesn't stop anybody from getting the pricey head gear:

I hope this doesn't deter anyone from getting Google Glass. Usually the experience is 180 degrees different, and right before this happened I was showing one of the normal, excited and curious individuals there how it works, letting them try it on and demonstrating it for them. This is the experience 95% of the time.

She says she filed a police report about the incident, but police on Monday told SFGate Blog that they weren't aware of it.

As the San Francisco news outlet pointed out, there's been an upswell of anti-technology resentment in the city over the past year, with demonstrators blockading Google and Apple employee buses, complaining that the influx of highly paid tech workers has displaced the working class and affected access to affordable housing in the area.

In a world where income disparity continues to grow, you've got to use your head when you strap an expensive gadget to it.

You're walking around with a face full of money. It's money that's both literal and metaphorical, so avoid being a glasshole and be aware of others around you.

Image courtesy of Sarah Slocum's Facebook page.

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54 Responses to Woman claims to have been attacked for wearing Google Glass

  1. Machin Shin · 247 days ago

    This really makes me wonder. Will Google actually be smart about this and fix the stupid camera?

    For example, how about making a cover for it that is very visible. That way it can be very easy to tell someone is not taking pictures. The thing I'm even more interested in would be, will they make a camera free version? I'm really interested in the idea of a wearable display, but I don't have any interest in having the stupid camera....

  2. Well, I suppose it's something that you don't advocate violence against wearers of Glass. The whole referring to tech users as "assholes" of any kind is getting tiring from a company allegedly covering security. In public one might be photographed. It's that simple. They tell me I must put up with the government photographing me literally everywhere (supposedly to protect me--right) so don't tell me I don't have the right to use tech gadgets to record anyone and anything outside his/her own home.

    They're not "glassholes," they're PEOPLE wearing Glass. How nice that you draw the line at physically attacking them. Sophos used to be a good source of articles on security. Not so much anymore. Now it's social commentary. Losing interest rapidly.

    • We cover security and privacy issues and advocate for better security and greater protection of personal privacy.

      Characterising the wearing of Google Glass as no more than a clothing choice is missing the point - we don't run articles about people who wear the wrong shoes or last year's haircut.

      What's at issue is the behaviour of the wearers.

      A person wearing Google Glass, particularly in an informal, enclosed space where other people go to relax, makes an active choice to increase their own enjoyment at the expense of others' comfort and privacy. They don't have to do that, it's not like they *need* Google Glass. Such behaviour is, at best, selfish.

      If you're in any doubt about how strongly people feel about Google Glass invading their privacy then take a look at the KRON 4 video.

      In the case Sarah Slocum it would appear from the video that she continued to make that selfish choice even after a number of people had made plain their feelings. It would have been no more than common courtesy to either stop or to go somewhere that her behaviour is considered acceptable.

      • Joe · 247 days ago

        I would suggest that filming people against their wishes is a form of assault itself.

        • I wouldn't say assault, but definitely antagonistic and provocative behaviour in the instance where one makes clear one's wishes not ot be filmed.

      • Adrian · 246 days ago

        It's funny what people take away from a comment - on reading Pjay's response I can not help but agree with him on what he started with. The over use of the term Glasshole and the overall scorn of the Google 'explorer' term seems harsh or overused in this report. I encourage two of my sons 15 and 12 to read Sophos and while they see and know a lot worse the use by Sophos in the article does (re)enforce a biases against those that are using the glasses. It's hard not to have biases on a product but when you are singling out people who might then get treated differently or incorrectly it isn't the best. Somewhat tongue in check - what's next, throwing rocks at those people with the Sony Phone-Watch on their wrists?
        I expect (and love) that sort of irreverence from Paul D when he speaks and look forward to dragging my oldest along to hear him speak at some stage, but as an article in this case the re-enforcement of the glasshole view seems harsh.

        • OK, I understand what you mean but this is not a matter of singling people out based on an arbitrary categorisation (say hair colour or the choice of a Sony phone watch over a Samsung model) this is about socially unacceptable behaviour.

          People react very negatively to the idea of being filmed by strangers at close quarters. Glassholes are people who ignore those feelings for the sake of their own enjoyment.

          As Lisa says 'we understand how noxious it is that some glassholes' sense of entitlement exceeds their common courtesy'

          Google also uses the term in their Guide for Explorers:

          https://sites.google.com/site/glasscomms/glass-explorers

          "[Don't] Be creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”). Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.

          • Mick A · 246 days ago

            Reading the information provided on the link above, it made it quite plain that Google had found a great way to invade more people's privacy - get some grinning *** like the 'Explorers' shown in the pictures to carry around a privacy invading device and submit the footage to Google plus or whatever insecure area they feel like submitting it to. This, along with instructions on how to 'sell' more of these things to other careless losers is absolutely genius; no wonder they pay their staff so much money.

          • Adrian · 242 days ago

            Mark, as normal for these pages I now stand better educated/aware - I certainly did not expect Google themselves to have utilised the term within their own "Glass Explorer" section. That said, I appreciate that you and others noted that I wasn't commenting about how Google-Glass wearers act but how Sophos was re-enforcing the negative stereotype

            Paul, your most welcome - I can not stress more how enjoyable it is to hear Paul give public/presenter talks and strongly encourage people to take up any chance they get to hear him.

        • Paul Ducklin · 246 days ago

          IRREVERENCE? (Seriously - thanks for the compliment :-)

          I have written about Google Glasses before (article linked to above) and I faced this issue: avoid the word "glasshole" in writing on account of it being an almost-swear-word, or use it because...well, because it's so spot on! (It's also a word embraced by Google itself, without an 18+ limit.)

          I finally settled on the irreverent solution that in British English, the rude version would be "glarsehole," while calling someone an "ass" is merely to liken them to a mule or donkey. (Stubborn!)

      • Gonzo · 246 days ago

        Did you see anyone there assaulting the bar tender because the bar has 6 security cameras running nonstop?

        • This is a question of etiquette and what people consider to be acceptable behaviour. The fact that they didn't object to CCTV but they did object to to the Google Glasses simply illustrates that CCTV was considered socially acceptable in that situation and the glasses were not.

        • Paul Ducklin · 246 days ago

          I don't approve of the proliferation of CCTV cameras, but I think it's a bit of a furhpy to compare fixed cameras on the ceiling operated by the venue (you can choose not to go there) with cameras on the end of fellow patrons' noses that they keep sticking right into your business even after you make it clear you'd like them not to. Remember that, unlike the CCTV camera, Google Glasses pretty much have the sole purpose of letting their owners suck you without choice into the "movie of their life," along with the right for them to do pretty much what they want with the all-seeing footage they record up at close quarters.

          Whether observed or not, the "CC" in CCTV means "closed circuit," and whether observed or not, most jurisdictions have some regulations about the use of CCTV footage. But what gets filmed on Google Glasses is pretty much open slather for the owner of the Glasses.

          Like happened here: people don't want to be filmed for privacy reasons, and end up in a published video where they can publicly be seen pleading not to be filmed.

          You can't see the irony?

          • RF · 246 days ago

            Not just slather for the owner of the glasses, but all sorts of valuable information that Google will suck up and use as well. How is this OK?

    • RF · 247 days ago

      A bar is not a public place. (Not only that, I would also imagine a bar would be a place where people ESPECIALLY don't want to be photographed)

      I am also really tiring of these "no one really has the right to privacy" arguments with the de rigeur references to the NSA.

    • Albert · 246 days ago

      "I turned the video on....
      "...they started to shield themselves as if I was videoing them, I wasn't"
      She switched on the glasses but she forgot her brain at home.

      she instigated the incident and now she is promoting herself with this free advertisement... and by the way she is not able to protect her Facebook account too.
      Glasshole is the most polite definition that a security blog can use for her. Maybe too much polite and politically correct.

    • Pjay, hate to tell you but you aren't the Government. "[D]on't tell me I don't have the right to use tech gadgets to record anyone and anything outside his/her own home." Wrong! I guess you've never heard of the various laws relating to the Right of Privacy and "the invasion of privacy," "a tort based in common law allowing an aggrieved party to bring a lawsuit against an individual who unlawfully intrudes into his or her private affairs." Now Google Street View does have a picture of me, but at least they blurred my face. And you aren't Google, either. And I'm not going to get into the issue of a Model Release - just in case a photon is published.

      Bottom line for me at least is my right to privacy. I catch someone wearing a set of these glasses, I whip around and take a photo using my phone camera. And I hunt for a hungry Personal Injury lawyer and sue the cog-sticker! If they can afford a pair of google glasses, they can afford to pay me damages.

  3. Justin · 247 days ago

    A concealed carry can prevent these issues from making it off the ground. If you're assaulted and feel your life to be in danger, there is no reason why you can't pull a weapon on the assailant and use force.

    • Mark · 247 days ago

      If you let your assailant get with in 21 feet of you. You haven't done your threat assessment properly. Using deadly force has it's consequences. Will you be ready for that?

    • Canuck · 247 days ago

      Wow. So typically rightwing American of you.

    • Andy · 247 days ago

      lol perhaps this is the perfect opportunity for a new line of Sophos security products

    • Anonymous · 247 days ago

      You mean for the people being filmed, right?

  4. Mark · 247 days ago

    It seems to me that wearing Google Glass is asking for trouble. I live in a city where tensions are high enough and this could escalate a situation to dangerous levels. This item is not and will not be on my wish list.

  5. Anonymous · 247 days ago

    Look on the bright side: While wearing Google Glass, only 5% of people you encounter will steal all of your possessions.

  6. LonerVamp · 247 days ago

    Stealing the purse and the glasses are certainly one thing that shouldn't happen. But, I'm not sure she justified throwing claims of physical assault in there. I guess if I felt threatened, I would take them off, ya know?

    But, I'm not sure I feel sorry for her. Google Glass is exciting, but it's equally as worrisome to me.

    The biggest problem is that Google's business model is predicated on lack of user privacy. Their goal is not going to be to sell Google Glass at profit; it's to hoard the video information; track where people go, what people look at, who they hang out with (facial recog, and if that doesn't fly, just track devices via GPS against logged in users who give up their mobile # and thus personal contact info from mobile companies...), and even deliver more targeted ads right on a screen in front of your eyes.

    They would help their cause much by being far more transparent. Then again, if a company needs to keep the way it handles users/information secret lest it raise user/customer ire, that company may not be an honorable company to deal with.

  7. shy · 247 days ago

    I have a real issue with being captured/photographed, so yes a very clear indication of filming or photographing would be great. Glass makes me want to wear s burqa!

  8. I think people need to wake up and realise (as was said above) we are already filmed all over the place, including in restaurants and public buildings. Taking a picture (in a public place) shouldn't get you assaulted.

    I would love a pair of Google Glass glasses, am I a 'glasshole'? I don't think so - that sounds like the pouting cry of a jealous child. I think I'm someone keen to see what new tech can do. Maybe it's good, maybe it will turn out to be just useless fun. What ever, does it matter?

    I would love for Google to make the glasses in variale frames and with prescription glass. That way more people could use them and they wouldn't be so noticable.

    • RF · 247 days ago

      What happens when the person taking a photo is creepy and is photographing your son or daughter? And won't stop when asked (as she didn't) Still feel the same?

    • Albert · 246 days ago

      The point is different. Google is not interested in the security of your city/State/Country as the police or FBI are.
      Google is interested in your habits to better place their advertisements and to gain more profit from selling them.
      Open your eyes people.

  9. Anonymous · 247 days ago

    All these comments against being photographed are raising a question, where are the concerns and comments re: most major cities and many smaller towns installing cameras on the streets.

    • Albert · 246 days ago

      the porpouse is differen.
      I don't think the police of your city will sell the information about you for advertisement placement.
      That is the job of Google.

    • They're on the articles Lisa has written about those subjects.

  10. Blake · 247 days ago

    Maybe when you spend so much money on this spy tool they should have some mandatory videos on diplomacy.

  11. jonathanpdx · 247 days ago

    So why is it all these "Glassophobes" aren't attacking people using their phones or closed circuit television/surveillance cameras? You're pretty much being recorded no matter where you go, so what's the big deal about being GooGlas'd?

    Then again, why would anyone want to wear something that so obviously screams "LOOK AT ME!"? I guess it's like wearing clothes with the designer label on the outside...just as shoddy as all the rest, it's just that they have a BIG LABEL on them telling everyone how COOL you aren't.

    • Albert · 246 days ago

      To be social or not, it is a personal choise.
      If there is someone who film you (or take a picture) without your agreement and then he posts everything on Facebook (or Google+), you have an issue.

      and don't mix the videosurvelliance with google galss... the porpouse is totally different: your police will not send your information for advertisement placement. Google does.
      Remember that you are the "item" but the customer is someone else.

      • grumpyhugs · 246 days ago

        What's a porpouse?

        Ok maybe we should all calm down. Pretty soon these will be affordable enough that every adult in that bar will be able to afford one, as well as lots of kid brothers/kid sisters. It's just the economics of Moore's Law. What will you do then? I submit, you'll do nothing but accept it perhaps grudgingly.

        That is all.

  12. Spryte · 247 days ago

    I know nothing of the laws in California, but here (Canada, Ontario) any restaurant, bar, coffee shop is considered a "Public Place". Posted signs regarding washrooms, or 'glass' mean nothing. It is just like walking down the street or being in a public park.
    Anyone in these places (except minors) can be photographed freely and as long as the photo is not used to make money they have no recourse.

    When the camera was a bulky device that was clearly visible this was never an isue as one knew when someone was taking photos. Today however with the advent of cell phone cameras and 'glass' devices it is a much different story, and a sad one at that as these devices are so often abused.

    As ridiculous as these devices are (in my opinion) I would have to defend their users rights to use them if they wished.

    As a privacy advocate myself, this is not a position I like being in.

    • Albert · 246 days ago

      How can you filter the minors when the camera follow your eye (head)?
      You cannot be sure what are you filming until you review the movie...
      Something will change for sure

    • I agree and I don't think in the UK even taking a child's picture is illegal if they are just there, in a public space (I may be wrong) most people ask but not all, look at all the website like 'people of walmart' filled with secretly taken photos with the idea of laughing at people, it shows it goes on all the time without the need for Google Glass.

      I have taken pictures on my phone of people without their knowledge, once I posted one online only to find it was a twitter follower - how we laughed....

  13. Andrew · 247 days ago

    Bad idea bad concept take Google glass off the market before someone gets killed as it will happen.

  14. Bobo · 247 days ago

    Like, OMG, I was, like, asaulted. Idiot.

  15. Joe · 247 days ago

    I'm ok with snapping Google glasses in half. Too bad it didn't happen.

  16. privateperson · 247 days ago

    Glassholes are a good term. Users should be limited to parks and mountain trails to share nature not people.

  17. RF · 247 days ago

    I am bothered by the "we really don't have privacy so what is the big deal" argument that is touted around this issue. These things should not be conflated.

    I don't see any logical connection between passive traffic and surveillance cameras capturing a wide view of a scene to be used if there is a commission of a crime, and a person - yes "glasshole" - focusing on a few specific people who generally do not want that in their face when they are out having a beer, completely disrespecting the privacy of those around them!

  18. Patrick · 247 days ago

    No pity for the stupid. I find it amusing that people figure that they can just walk around being blatantly offensive with no repercussions. Historically when 1 person tries to negatively instigate a crowd of people (someone wearing glass in public place and ignoring the negative reactions) bad things happen and as Andrew pointed out above - will continue to happen. Is your life or safety really worth what ever pathetic point you are trying to make wearing google glass? If it is - again, no pity for the stupid.

    • Albert · 246 days ago

      Yes, right.
      She should try to walk with a gold Rolex and a last-model Nikon camera in the center of Caracas. Maybe she will understand the issue :-)

      PS Sorry, Caracas is just and example, an extreme one.

  19. Buck · 247 days ago

    Just some questions about Glass, is the video recorder on by default? Is there no way to turn it off? Is every Glass wearer a spy for the NSA?

  20. Anonymous · 246 days ago

    I don't see any difference by strapping on a Go-Pro and walk into any bar or any other public place. You will instantly become infamous whether you like it or not. I'm sure the reaction you get is not quite what you were hoping for but again that's just my opinion.

  21. gerrymar · 246 days ago

    Do you want to become famous or infamous? There is a place for everything. I just hope her lack of vision is a lesson to everybody.

  22. I would suggest to that lady that the next time she takes it into a bar is to NOT RECORD peoples faces when she's there!

  23. Ian · 246 days ago

    How would this stupid woman feel if she was at dinner having a private conversation and a diner at the next table pointed a microphone at them and began recording what they were saying? She would surely complain that her privacy was being invaded. Why can't she and other GG wearing morons see how invasive they are being with their toy.

  24. Mick A · 246 days ago

    There is only one point relevant here: SHE WAS ATTACKED AND ROBBED BY CRIMINALS. What she has effectively done is turn this from a robbery into a diatribe on innocent people who don't like having their privacy breached by idiots like her - yes, people like her who have a large financial interest in breaching people's privacy by employing stupid tools like Google Glass. I would have felt sorry for her if she'd posted her anger or distress at being robbed - but she didn't. I have absolutely no sympathy.

  25. ringo3000 · 242 days ago

    Scanning anyone in public, whether it be with Google Glass, a cellphone camera, or whatever, is just plain rude. Now add to that the environment you are in. If you are in a bar/pub you most likely prefer to relax and take it easy after your day at work...a camera pointed at you does not do the trick. You can't relax like that and it's an irritant. In my opinion, anyone pointing a camera my way, or Google Glass...they are wide open to having the device grabbed from their face or hands and trashed. They brought that upon themselves.

  26. Joey L · 154 days ago

    This article could do with an update since Slocum posted the full video with her aggravating the bar's patrons.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.