US politicians are urgently seeking assurances from Google that its new ‘smart underpants’ will respect personal privacy. The underpants, codenamed “Google Ass”, appear similar to traditional underwear, but contain a ‘heads-up’ display with camera and microphone, which sit snugly on the wearer’s right testicle (most users are believed to be male).
A letter signed by members of the Congressional privacy caucus has been sent to Google posing several questions about the data the gadget will collect from users, and concerns were also raised about the privacy implications of having a camera strapped permanently to one’s cock. The caucus has quizzed many tech companies in the past on what they do with the information they gather from users’ genitals, and famously reprimanded Sony for not making it clear to customers that the new “Buttman” music player included DRM which meant once inserted, it could only be removed in-store, causing much embarrassment to shoppers.
Google Ass is proving a controversial technology because of its potential to gather images, video and other data about almost anything a user does with their penis. Google has denied that there will be any privacy problems relating to an always-on internet-connected camera lodged inside users’ underpants. But some users are already unhappy at the prospect of sending video footage of their ‘old fellow’ to Google HQ 24 hours a day, claiming that getting a girlfriend will be “impossible” if their personal data were to leak into the public domain.
A Google spokesman was quick to play down these concerns, assuring users that the penis videos would be kept “only as long as strictly necessary,” and adding that no personally-identifiable information would be stored, “unless the user has a distinctive birthmark, or, say, an exceptionally large one.”
Privacy may not be the only threat to Google’s new gadget, however. There have recently been rumours from Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino that the iPhone maker may be considering filing a patent violation claim against the underpants. This would seem blatantly unfair to most people, but close examination of Apple’s patent designs of the last few years has revealed that “An expensive gadget usually hanging off a cock” was a key part of the description of the original iPad.