Privacy commissioners from around the world write to Google to get more details on Glass

by: Gary SimsJune 20, 2013

Google Glasses 2Besides the technological innovations of Google Glass there are also privacy issues and implications for society, not just in the USA but all over the world. As a result of these concerns government privacy officials from six countries have written to Google asking for more details about its new wearable smart device.

In a joint letter written to Google CEO Larry Page, data protection officials from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Switzerland, and Israel have asked Google for more information on how Google Glass complies with data protection laws and details on what privacy safeguards Google and application developers are putting in place.

The six privacy commissioners are concerned about the “privacy implications of a device that can be worn by an individual and used to film and record audio of other people” and the subsequent “fears of ubiquitous surveillance.” They also raise questions about Google’s collection of data from Glass and what it means in terms of Google’s privacy policy.

The problem is that the information currently available to data protection officials about Google Glass, how it operates, how it could be used, and how Google might use the collected data, comes primarily from media reports. There is concern that these reports are based on speculation rather than fact.

Although the six signatories were pleased that Google had decided not to include facial recognition in Glass, they wanted to know how Google intends to address the specific issues around facial recognition in the future.

The officials have also asked Google if it will be wiling to demonstrate the device and allow any interested data protection authorities to test it.

What do you think, what are the broader, ethical issues about wearable computing devices? What can Google do to help protect individuals’ privacy rights around the world?

  • Trent Richards

    I honestly don’t see the problem. How is this any different than a smartphone with a camera? Because you wear it on your face? Already I can record people in public and upload it onto the Web and no privacy authorities are concerned about that. If people are concerned about being recorded unknowingly, which is something that can already be done with a number of devices, then simply put a red led that blinks while recording on Glass. Bottom line, Glass is far from the first “concealed” camera device and you can buy wearable hidden cameras all over the world and on the Web from “spy/surveillance” stores.

    • Benjamin Pavel

      Exactly !
      With Glass you can at least see if Glass are turned on or if they are recording you can’t do that with those Spy gadgets and phones (if the back is turned against you).

  • David Allen

    WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT….So its ok for the NSA to spy on everything we do 24/7 but we cant walk around with a camera strapped to our face. I would figure that the government would be JUMPING at the chance to push this out there faster. Don’t get me wrong. I’m looking forward to Google Glass but I’m so sick of everyone freeking out over “privacy conscerns”.