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

Government privacy officials from six countries, including Canada, have written to Google asking for more details about its new wearable smart device. What can Google do to help protect individuals' privacy rights around the world?
June 20, 2013
Google Glasses 2
Besides 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?