Photo courtesy of Antonio Zugaldia CC By 3.0

There’s a lot of talk about Google Glass and legalities these days. Let’s look at some of those issues, starting with a description of the device.

What Is Google Glass?

Basically, it is a wearable computer with a camera, microphone and display in the form of eye glasses that the wearer manipulates through voice commands, taps and even winking. The camera sees what the wearer sees, and the wearer can:

  • Record video, audio and photo.
  • Use GPS for location tracking and retrieving directions.
  • Connect to a smartphone for placing calls, texting and email.
Google Glass can connect to the Internet in one of two ways:

Google Glass – Photo courtesy of Mikepanhu CC By-SA 3.0

  • WiFi
  • The wearer’s smartphone.
All recorded data is stored on Google servers “in the cloud.” But even when offline, Google Glass is still able to record pictures and video.

Privacy Issues

It’s bad enough that other people cannot always tell if they are being recorded by Google Glass wearers, but also everything recorded is stored on Google’s servers “in the cloud.” And you know that everything on Google’s servers belongs to Google, right? Wanted to check because drafted email messages stored on Google’s servers were the reason the United States’ former director of the CIA, David Petraeus, resigned in 2012. Petraeus didn’t know that drafts of his emails to his lover were Google’s property.

Facial Recognition Built Into Glass?

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, it’s likely that facial recognition software will be built into Google Glass in the near future. That means a wearer can look at you and the Glass’s facial recognition software will “compute” your identity, then dredge up all kinds of information about you, such as your Twitter news feed, Facebook page, which legal blogs you read, and so on.

There currently is a technology patent for a detector that blurs people’s features when a portable camera is in the vicinity. Great, a software product that can thwart Google Glass, right? Sorry, but no. Google is currently seeking a patent for a contact lens Google Glass that would escape any public detection.

While seeking this patent, Google stated on its blog it “won’t add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place.”  Hmm, wonder what those strong privacy protections are. Not so long ago, 38 states, including the District of Columbia, reached a settlement for $7 million with Google over its illegal collection of data from wireless networks, including private WiFi networks of residential Internet users.

Banning Google Glass

Businesses are starting to ban Google Glasses being worn on their premises for liability and security issues. There are also concerns over wearers illegally recording others without their permission in two-party consent states, as well as wearers violating the Wiretap Act. 

Backlashes to “Glassholes”

There have been violent altercations between people not liking their privacy being violated by disrespectful Glass wearers (by the way, the moniker being used for a disrespectful Glass wearer is Glasshole — no, I’m not making that up). Recently, bar patrons in San Francisco and New York have attacked Glass wearers who appeared to be recording others without their permission.

Restaurant Owner Takes Heat for Banning Google Glass

When a restaurant, Feast, in the East Village kicked out a female patron who refused to take off her Google Glass, hundreds of “Glass groupies” rallied against the restaurant, accusing it of being discriminatory against “technology.” Feast’s owner, Brian Ghaw, refused to apologize for kicking out the woman. His customers, Ghaw said, “felt uncomfortable about having somebody who could potentially videotape them.” Ghaw’s restaurant remains a No Google Glass zone to this day.

What Kind of Places Are Banning Google Glass?

According to an article in SEJ, bars are the number entity to ban Google Glass. To read the other nine top spots, check out the article “Top 10 Places That Have Banned Google Glass.”

Interestingly enough, law firms aren’t on that list. Yet, anyway.

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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