Google Glass

The United States Congress Looks To Take On Google Glass

May 16, 2013 - Written By Joe Levin

In one of the more predictable stories to come out of Washington D.C. in a while, some members of the United States Congress have sent a letter to Google asking for answers regarding the privacy implications of their most recent attempt at wearable technology, the Google Glass project.

The members of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus led by representative Joe Barton (Republican – Texas) want to know whether the search giant’s newest  technology “infringes on the privacy of the average American.”  The Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus you may be interested to know, has investigated the data privacy and security practices of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, College Board, Groupon, the four major wireless carriers, and the Social Security Administration, among other entities in the past.

The letter raises some known concerns about the product and also asks several questions including:

  • When using Google Glass, is it true that this product would be able to use Facial Recognition Technology to unveil personal information about whomever and even some inanimate objects that the user is viewing? Would a user be able to request such information? Can a non-user or human subject opt out of this collection of personal data? If so, how? If not, why not?

  • In Google’s privacy policy, it states that the company “may collect device-specific information (such as your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information including phone number).” Would Google Glass collect any data about the user without the user’s knowledge and consent? If so, why? If not, please explain.

  • Will Google Glass have the capacity to store any data on the device itself? If so, will Google Glass implement some sort of user authentication system to safeguard stored data? If not, why not? If so, please explain.

Others signing the letter include, Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (D-GA), Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), Rep. Richard Nugent (R-FL), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA).

While it’s good that Congress is concerned with the privacy of the citizens of the country it seems to me like they are a day late and a dollar short on this one. We live in a society where everyone has some type of camera, and that’s the government itself and private citizens alike. Just look at how quick the marathon terrorists here in my hometown of Boston were caught. Granted they decided to blow up what was probably the most photographed two blocks on the planet on that day, but they wouldn’t have been identified so fast had it not been for the all the the cameras in that location.

Sure these guys have to look like they are earning their paycheck but something tells me that they really don’t understand what Glass actually is.