privacy2

Data-protection authorities in Australia, Canada, Israel, Mexico and New Zealand have written a joint letter to Google CEO Larry Page expressing concerns about Google Glass, and asking the company eight specific questions about the product, reports ZDNet.

As you have undoubtedly noticed, Google Glass has been the subject of many articles that have raised concerns about the obvious, and perhaps less obvious, privacy implications of a device that can be worn by an individual and used to film and record audio of other people.  Fears of ubiquitous surveillance of individuals by other individuals, whether through such recordings or through other applications currently being developed, have been raised.  Questions about Google’s collection of such data and what it means in terms of Google’s revamped privacy policy have also started to appear … 

The eight specific questions Google has been asked to address are:

  • 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?

The last one being a posh way of asking ‘Can we have one, please?’.

Privacy issues are of course a constant theme for the Google Glass project. TNW hosted a debate last month between Glass enthusiast Robert “I will never live a day of my life from now on without it” Scoble and British entrepreneur and privacy advocate Andrew Keen. Google has already blocked face-recognition apps until “strong privacy protections [are] in place”. Some workplaces and even bars have banned Glass before they are even available to the public, one of those workplaces being … Google.

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