Congress Asks Google To Address Google Glass Privacy Concerns

Posted May 18, 2013

Congress has asked that Google addresses several privacy concerns around the new wearable Google Glass product.  The letter that Congress sent to Google was addressed to Google CEO Larry Page has 8 questions in it that requires a response by June 14th.  Google Glass lets users take photos, record and watch video, send text messages, and post information to social media.

“As members of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average America.  Because Google Glass has not yet been released and we are uncertain of Google’s plans to incorporate privacy protections into the device, there are still a number of unanswered questions that we share,” says the letter.

Joe Barton (Republican-Texas) is the co-chairman of the group.  The questions in the letter are summarized below:

1.) Google recently agreed to pay $7 million to settle charges with 38 states regarding the collection of data from unprotected WiFi networks without permission, Congress would like to know how Google plans to preven Google Glass from unintentionally collecting data about the user/non-user without consent.

2.) What proactive steps are being taken by Google to protect the privacy of non-users when Google Glass is in use?  Also if a Google Glass product is sold or disposed, is there any product capabilities incorporated into the device to ensure that one’s personal information remains private.

3.) Does Google Glass use facial recognition technology to unveil personal information about whomever and even inanimate objects that the user is viewing?

4.) Google’s privacy policy states that they “may reject requests that are unreasonably repetitive, require disproportionate technical effort… risk the privacy of others, or would be extremely impractical.”  Congress wants to know examples of when Google would reject requests on Google Glass that would risk the privacy of others.

5.) Has Google considered making refinements to their privacy policy considering Google Glass’ sensory and processing capabilities.

6.) Google’s privacy policy states that the company “may collect device-specific information” like the hardware model, operating system, UDID, and mobile network information including phone numbers.  Congress wants to know if this information will be collected from users that have Google Glass and what information is being collected.  They also want to know if Google Glass collects any data about the user without the user’s knowledge.

7.) Congress wants to know what privacy is considered when approving current and future apps for Google Glass.

8.) Congress wants to know if Google Glass has the capacity to store any data on the device?  If so, Congress wants to know if Google Glass is going to implement a user authentication system to safeguard stored data.

?We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues,? said Google spokesman Chris Dale provided to The New York Times.  Dale added that the company is slowly selling early versions of the device to people who sign up for them ?to ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology.?