Congress Demands Answers About Google Glass

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-05-19 Print this article Print

Initially, the Google Glass device was positioned as something that would provide information about something the wearer was seeing. So if you went to a museum, for example, Glass would display information about the item you were looking at. But since it would be impossible to screen out the people at the museum, it's inevitable that people would be caught up in the all-seeing gaze of Glass. From there, it's not hard to figure out how people who never agreed to have their personal lives displayed to Glass users might have their privacy violated.

While it's easy to dismiss such concerns, Google hasn't done anything to make such dismissal easier. Initially, the company tried to stonewall suggestions that its Street View project gathered private information from WiFi networks but ultimately was forced to admit that it had. Likewise, Google came under fire for ignoring its own privacy rules a few years ago with Google Buzz, a social networking platform. There, Google extracted information from contact lists and photos users had taken, and posted them on users' Google Buzz pages without permission.

While Google eventually apologized for its actions in regards to Google Buzz, the fact that privacy seemed to be only a secondary concern to Google is what's making Google a primary concern to others. What's worse is that one of the features Google built in to Glass was the need to use your hands to take a photo or record a video, making it obvious that you were doing so. Now, one of the first apps to appear for Glass is one that lets you do these things by simply winking an eye.

Google has until June 14 to respond to the inquiries by the caucus. But unless Google finds a way to ease everyone's fears, and that's unlikely given the company's "just trust us" attitude, you can expect some sort of regulation restricting how Glass can be used. You may also see privacy rules strengthened.

While this may be cold comfort when you look up as you're getting dressed in the locker room and see someone wearing Glass, at least you might have some recourse. If not, there's always that golf club in your locker.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel