End the Lie

New Google Glass app gives ‘instant dossiers’ on people you meet

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By End the Lie

Screenshot from Refresh page in the Google Glass store (Image credit: Refresh.io)

Screenshot from Refresh page in the Google Glass store (Image credit: Refresh.io)

The privacy concerns surrounding Google Glass may get even worse now that an app has been unveiled that gives users access to “instant dossiers” on people they meet.

Read our latest: “Reports: Sochi visitors immediately hacked when connecting to wireless networks” and “Justice Department: NSA phone record collection may have resulted in one criminal case

Last year, individuals in Congress asked questions about the privacy of Google’s new device, hackers were able to use the technology as a facial recognition device and an exploit was shown to be able to turn Glass into a covert surveillance device.

Now an app will allow an average person to have access to the kind of information that high-powered dignitaries and CEOs have assembled by a team of aides.

“Dossiers are this power tool that world and business leaders get and our goal is to democratize this,” cofounder and CEO Bhavin Shah,” said to VentureBeat in an exclusive interview.

So far, their efforts have resulted in an iOS application released last year, thanks in part to $10 million in investments.

“As an entrepreneur, you have a vision and hope that things come together so you can pursue it,” Shah said. “e wanted Refresh to feel like a diplomatic attaché whispering in your ear. Glass can help us realize our vision because the tech gets out of the way.”

Refresh pulls data from a wide range of sources popular social networks like Twitter and Facebook along with LinkedIn, Foursquare, Github, AngelList, Yahoo and Zillow, a real estate site.

Since Refresh connects with the user’s calendar, the app can pull up information on the person you’re meeting with automatically based on a future appointment.

The inspiration for the application came when Shah was working with Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Shah said he witnessed the power of the briefings given to Thompson and how they allowed him to connect with people more easily.

By leveraging technology like Glass, Refresh hopes to make this kind of information available to a much wider range of people. However, Shah recognizes that currently there is a degree of stigma surrounding Google Glass and that the userbase is somewhat limited.

“I like the analogy of Glass being like [the Sony] Walkman back in the early ’80s,” Shah said. “It was a weird awkward thing to be wearing out a Walkman in public, and then it became completely normal.”

Refresh’s privacy policy may be somewhat troubling to some potential users, though one might argue that privacy conscious users probably wouldn’t be using Glass to begin with.

With the user’s permission, Refresh “may access other personal information on your device, such as your contacts list and details, calendar or messages, in order to provide services to you.”

They may also access information from Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter with the user’s permission.

“We may collect personally identifiable information from you as a condition to use the Refresh Products and Services, including the Refresh Software. Personal information to be collected may include your name, e-mail address, and telephone number,” the privacy policy states.

The company may also associate the personal information they collect from you “with your activities in the course of providing the Products and Services to you.” The information they collect may also be made available to other users of the app.

“The information Refresh collects is used to help us identify who you are, and who you come into contact with to provide you with information about your contacts. It is only used for our business purposes,” the policy states.

The company states that they may collect information on you from outside sources and add it to or combine it with your account information.

Others are trying to create similar applications as well. People+ aims to use Glass to present information on the person you’re talking to, just as Refresh does.

However, People+ uses data culled from community-edited sources somewhat like Wikipedia in addition to web sources.

People+ aims to provide users with the basic information “without you having to type anything,” founder and CEO Peter Berger said to VentureBeat last year.

In today’s world, it seems one can expect no privacy whatsoever. Do you think applications like this are a positive thing or are they an affront to your right to privacy? Let us know in the comments or by leaving us a message on our Facebook page or via Twitter.

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2 Responses to New Google Glass app gives ‘instant dossiers’ on people you meet

  1. Jay Kenney February 6, 2014 at 11:10 PM

    Personal privacy continues to be eroded by irresponsible use of technology. Where this cyber tech is headed, is positively apocalyptic. Do we just accept that we are all being watched at all times?

    • Scott Thompson October 2, 2014 at 3:49 AM

      Dude, seriously this stuff has been out of hand for a while, people exploiting bugs in systems for profit, baddly written software and then there’s software thats just questionable.

      Why does the Android Kernel require RPC – Remote procedure calls? Why is the Linux Kernel over half a million lines long?

      The most disturbing thing in my opinion is that the creator of Linux sit’s there saying Linux & Android are on the same Par…

      You want to know what they’ve got that’s sucking up all that Data? Well lets see, MacOS uses the JFS – Journaling File System, Windows uses the Hierachical File System and then there’s Unix System 10 with it’s HJFS – the Filing System which is so secure no idealistic idiot can get around it!

      Hence a load of developers all argueing with each other saying take your crappy software and go away!


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