Thursday, May 6, 2021

Lawmakers Question Google on Glass Privacy

Google Glass isn’t available to the general public yet, but that hasn’t stopped people from asking questions about the privacy implications of the device. Now lawmakers are getting into the action, sending a formal letter to Google asking for answers to their privacy questions.

Claire Cain Miller with The New York Times reported, “Eight members of Congress on Thursday formally demanded that Google address a range of privacy concerns about its new wearable technology device, Google Glass. The letter, addressed to Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, outlined eight questions for Google and asked for a response by June 14. ‘We are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American,’ the letter said. ‘Because Google Glass has not yet been released and we are uncertain of Google’s plans to incorporate privacy protections into the device, there are still a number of unanswered questions.'”

The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati noted, “The demands come as Google holds its annual developer conference in San Francisco, where it is coaching hundreds of developers on how to write programs for the device. Google Glass is an accessory worn on a person’s face and places a small computer screen above one eye, and it connects wirelessly to a smartphone using Bluetooth technology. The device is currently available to fewer than a couple thousand developers who paid $1,500 for a prototype, ahead of a planned public launch of Glass sometime next year.”

BBC News added, “The letter, addressed to Google boss Larry Page, pointed out that the company did not have an unblemished history when it came to handling personal information. It mentioned the widespread criticism Google faced and the fines it had to pay after it inadvertently scooped up data from unprotected wi-fi networks while gathering information for its Street View service. The politicians want to know how Google will ensure it does not repeat that mistake.”

According to The Verge’s Nathan Olivarez-Giles, Google engineers defended Glass’s privacy features in an I/O session. “If I’m recording you, I have to stare at you — as a human being. And when someone is staring at you, you have to notice,” said Google’s Charles Mendis. “If you walk into a restroom and someone’s just looking at you — I don’t know about you but I’m getting the hell out of there.”

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