Google Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) has filed for a couple patents which might help law enforcement out, but at a possible cost to our privacy. Phandroid spotted both patents, which deal with mob sourced video and phones.
Google wants to identify mobs
The patents are for a system which can basically identify a mob event and then send photos and video to law enforcement officials. The patents define a mob event as one which attracts an abnormal amount of photo or video taking. In order to determine whether an event is a mob event, Google Inc (NASDAQ:FOOG) would look for a minimum number of videos with similar time and location stamps. If an event hits that number, then Google would mark it as a mob event and send notifications to the authorities, news agencies or whoever else it deems should receive the information about the event.
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What about privacy?
In Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s patent application, the first two parties it lists as possible recipients of mob sourced multimedia messages are law enforcement and news organizations. Phandroid marks these two types of recipients as being especially problematic for privacy, particularly in light of all the digital spying programs which have been uncovered since Edward Snowden blew the whistle last year.
Google could help law enforcement
We have already seen a big example of when authorities looked through public photos and videos to look for clues. The FBI looked at videos and photos from the cell phones of those who attended the Boston Marathon. If Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) created a system like the one described in its patents, then officials might not have actually collected the cell phones of those who attended the event. They would have just received them via the notifications sent by Google.
So a system like the one Google is trying to patent could be helpful, but the company is going to have to address privacy concerns before anyone is going to go for it.