Google Glass Raises Privacy Concerns

Created: 2013-05-20 22:54 EST

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Google Inc's latest invention that combines glasses with a mobile computer has hit a sensitive nerve with lawmakers.

On Thursday (May 16) eight Members of Congress' bi-partisan privacy caucus wrote a letter to Google's Chief Executive, Larry Page, outlining questions about privacy issues. Google has until June 14 to reply.

The wearable computer called "Google Glass" connects to the Internet and can snap photos, initiate videochats, display directions at the sound of a user's voice and bring up information that only the wearer can see.

Etiquette expert Thomas Farley, who is writing a book on tech etiquette, told Reuters on Friday (May 17) his biggest concerns.

[Thomas Farley, Etiquette Expert]
"The fact is, if you are out with friends, if you are at the family dinner table and you've got your Google Glasses on, you are not paying attention to what's happening. So that's the largest problem. There is also a big issue of privacy. So the fact that you can be recording and photographing things without people realizing it presents all sorts of ethical issues for the people in your surroundings."

News website "Mashable" posted a video on its site showing the possible misuses of Google Glass that it calls "Glasshole." The humorous video shows a man wearing Glass during his work bathroom break, secretly video recording the chest of his date and spoiling a game of Trivial Pursuit by answering all the questions using the wearable computer.

[Thomas Farley, Etiquette Expert]
"If you are walking into a situation where you wouldn't bring a camera, either a still camera or a film camera, then you should not have Google Glass recording. You also shouldn't have them on. Because people around you, again, are going to be wondering, 'What's going on there? Is this person recording?' It puts people very ill at ease. It's akin to putting on a pair of sunglasses where you're actually putting up a barrier between you and the person around you. So again, where you would bring a camera, and that would be off limits, I would say the same for Google Glasses. Take them off and turn them off."

Mashable's Editor-in-Chief, Lance Ulanoff, who has used Glass, said that it should be used with a clear purpose in mind.

[Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief of Mashable]:
"What is it going to do for you? Is it going to help you get where you want to go? Is it going to give you information on the fly?"

Google is making the glasses available to software developers this year but has said they won't be available more broadly until 2014.

It has decided that it will pre-approve all apps offered to Glass users, unlike its more wide open market for Android phones and tablets.

On Thursday (May 16) Google unveiled a half-dozen apps designed to work on Glass, including social networking services Facebook and Twitter.