US Lawmakers Question Google Glass’ Privacy Issues

Eight American lawmakers have formally demanded Google to address various privacy concerns about Google Glass, the company’s new wearable device.

The letter, addressed to Google CEO Larry Page, is authored by Representative Joe Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus. The document has outlined eight questions that Google should answer on or before June 14.

“We are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American,” the letter states. “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.”

Other questions listed in the letter includes how Google would collect and store data from Google Glass; how the company would ensure the device does not unintentionally collect private data; how Google would protect the privacy of people who are not using the Glass when they are with people who are using it; and whether Google Glass would have facial recognition technology.

Google Glass has yet to be available in the market, but a handful of users had a chance to wear an early version of the device provided they shell out as much as $1,500. The device, worn like a pair of eyeglasses, is connected to the Internet and allows people to perform tasks such as taking photos, record and watch video clips, send text messages, and post to social media sites.

The company has already raised privacy concerns on some issues, such as unwanted recording. Google claims that when the device is recording, its light is always on and that the wearer should be staring at the subject.

Meanwhile, a representative of Google has addressed the question of facial recognition in a statement. “We’ve consistently said that we won’t add new face recognition features to our services unless we have strong privacy protections in place,” says Steve Lee, director of product management for Google Glass.

Lee has also addressed other concerns in the letter during Google’s recent I/O Conference, saying that his company has followed all its privacy and data collection policies with Glass. He adds that social cues are also built into the device to help prevent certain privacy violations, such as users having to press a button or speak to the device to take photos or record videos.

In a separate statement, Google spokesperson Chris Dale states, “We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues.”

Source: House of Representatives, via New York Times

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