Google Glass Privacy Concerns Raised By Numerous Countries

Ever since its announcement, Google's Glass has been the target of those who care about privacy - and for good reason. With its ability to be (mostly) discrete and record audio + video with ease, concerns are clear. It's one thing to be monitored by something like a CCTV camera, but some might argue that it's something entirely different to be filmed by a regular passerby.

We've talked about this before, of course. There have already been situations where family or friends have been weirded out by them, and even Google itself doesn't trust the product enough to be worn during a shareholders meeting. And of course, who can forget the Seattle bar that banned Glass nearly a year before its mainstream release?

Recently, we've seen Google cave into some pressure by removing facial recognition features from Glass, but according to some security and privacy authorities, there's not enough information about what Google is accomplishing with privacy on its upcoming device.

In a letter signed by ten government officials from seven different countries, Google is asked to give specific information on a couple of things. In the letter, it's mentioned that most of their info obtained so far has been from the media - not Google - and as such, most of it has been based on speculation. To help get a clearer picture of what Google's doing to provide better privacy with Glass, eight simple questions are asked:

  • How does Google Glass comply with data protection laws?
  • What are the privacy safeguards Google and application developers are putting in place?
  • What information does Google collect via Glass and what information is shared with third parties, including application developers?
  • How does Google intend to use this information?
  • While we understand that Google has decided not to include facial recognition in Glass, how does Google intend to address the specific issues around facial recognition in the future?
  • Is Google doing anything about the broader social and ethical issues raised by such a product, for example, the surreptitious collection of information about other individuals?
  • Has Google undertaken any privacy risk assessment the outcomes of which it would be willing to share?
  • Would Google be willing to demonstrate the device to our offices and allow any interested data protection authorities to test it?

These are basically the exact same questions privacy advocates the world over have had for a while, so with the questions now coming from a number of government officials, hopefully it won't be much longer before Google really starts opening up about its Glass privacy efforts.