We come across tons of interesting patents each and every day, but recently none have caused as much concern and curiosity as this one. Google recently filed a patent for a system that identifies when and where a “mob” event takes place and sends multimedia alerts to relevant parties. The patents are actually titled “Mob Source Phone Video Collaboration” and “Inferring Events Based On Mob Sourced Video“.
No… not that mob. In this case a “mob” is essentially an activity or event attracting an abnormal amount of attention in the form of video recording and picture taking. Here’s a quick blurb from the patent description:
Excerpt from US Patent #20140025755
“When there are at least a given number of video clips with similar time stamps and geolocation stamps uploaded to a repository, it is inferred that an event of interest has likely occurred, and a notification signal is transmitted (e.g., to a law enforcement agency, to a news organization, to a publisher of a periodical, to a public blog, etc.).”
The fact that “law enforcement agencies” and “news organization(s)” are the first two examples provided by Google themselves is our greatest cause for concern. Especially at a time when privacy issues seem to take center stage all too often in the worst way possible.
Much has been made about NSA snooping, privacy, FISA, civil liberties and much more over the past year, so to think Google filed this patent application with the idea of potentially and proactively feeding information to law enforcement is a bit unsettling.
Would only photos/videos you uploaded as publicly viewable be included into this system? Could you opt out? Could Google access the private content stored on your local device for these purposes?