Skip to main content

Congress asks Google CEO if Glass infringes 'on the privacy of the average American'

Congress asks Google CEO if Glass infringes 'on the privacy of the average American'

Share this story

For all that's been said about the tremendous innovations of Google Glass, privacy concerns have only grown louder since the project's introduction last year. As Google's Explorer Edition continues its staggered rollout, Congress is finally seeking answers. The Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus today wrote a letter to CEO Larry Page asking the CEO to clear up once and for all "whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American."

You'd expect a privacy caucus to be wary

"Because Google Glass has not yet been released and we are uncertain of Google's plans to incorporate privacy protections into the device," the letter reads, "there are still a number of unanswered questions that we share." The first question revolves around a sore spot in Google's history: the unauthorized collection of personal data from Wi-Fi networks by the company's Street View cars — which led to an $7 million settlement with US states and fines overseas. The caucus asks Page "how Google plans to prevent Google Glass from unintentionally collecting data about the user" without permission. Non-Glass wearers (i.e. those in the camera's path) are also addressed; Rep. Joe Barton and his colleagues request information on any "proactive" steps Google is taking to guard their right to privacy.

Potential facial recognition capabilities are also a concern; the congressmen want to know if Glass is (or will be) capable of recognizing individuals and whether the public will have a way of opting out of such analysis. Further, the caucus asks Google to detail the types of user information it's pulling in from Glass, along with any changes to Google's privacy policy that have been considered as Glass evolves into a consumer-facing product. Information pertaining to data protection and developer guidelines are also requested. Page has been asked to provide his response to the inquiry no later than June 14th.