Google's lobbyists are trying to stop states from limiting how drivers can use its Glass headsets. According to Reuters, the company is speaking to legislators in Illinois, Delaware, and Missouri in an attempt to derail distracted driving bills that would include wearable computing devices like Glass. These aren't the only states considering legislation. New York, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland are all debating proposed Glass limits, and lawmakers elsewhere have warned that the glasses are just as distracting as a cellphone on the road. Last year, Arizona state senator Steve Farley called Glass a "clear and present danger" and urged Google itself to build in safeguards.
No legislators in any of these states, have reported being contacted by Google, though New Jersey and Wyoming apparently did not respond to comment. Delaware's Rep. Joseph Miro, however, says lobbyists forwarded him an article about a recent distracted driving case in California, attempting to show him that courts weren't likely to prosecute Google Glass use. Last year, a San Diego woman was ticketed for wearing Glass, but officials later dismissed the citation, saying there was no way to prove the device was on. Issues like this will make it difficult to enforce anything other than a draconian ban on wearing headsets while driving — something that will be particularly difficult for people who integrate Glass into their prescription eyeglasses.
Google, whose experiments and commercial products alike can test the boundaries of law, has been heavily involved in the lawmaking process. It's pushed hard for states to adopt rules for dealing with driverless cars, and it runs one of the biggest lobbying operations in the tech industry. While things like Glass regulation are cases of the law trying to catch up to new technology, it's also been frequently embroiled in more mundane disputes over antitrust and privacy violations, especially in the EU. In this case, however, Google believes that making people more familiar with Glass will ease their concerns. "While Glass is currently in the hands of a small group of Explorers," it said in a statement, "we find that when people try it for themselves they better understand the underlying principle that it's not meant to distract but rather connect people more with the world around them."