Multi-National Group Asks Google To Address Privacy Concerns Around Glass

Google Glass

Several authorities from ten different countries around the globe wrote a letter to Google CEO Larry Page today, asking the company to provide clarification on various privacy concerns. The request for detailed information, from Mexico, Israel, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and others, came with a statement that their knowledge of Glass is based on speculative media reports, and they would like hard data from Google.

While Glass is not on available to consumers, yet, the recently active and visible beta program has created quite a stir as many people worry about invasion of privacy due to the included camera function built into Glass.

Australian Senator Cory Bernardi is on record saying that Google Glass as “the end of privacy,” saying that rather than needing to grab a mobile phone to capture footage, Glass can automatically record video “every day, automatically.”

The privacy commisioners who wrote Larry Page the letter say that Google has not approached them for discussions of possible ethics issues, and have asked eight questions around these. The commisioners want to know how Glass complies with data protection laws, how privacy is safeguarded with Glass, what information Google will collect and retain, and whether Google has undertaken any privacy risk assessment, according to a ZDnet report.

The group would also like a demonstration of Google Glass, and for Google to let them test it themselves, as ministers and authority on privacy concerns in their respective countries.

“We are aware that these questions relate to issues that fall squarely within our purview as data protection commissioners, as well as to other broader, ethical issues that arise from wearable computing,” said the letter. “Nevertheless, we feel it is important for us to raise all of these concerns.”

Google, of course, responded in a statement, saying that it’s pretty early in the product cycle, yet, and that the company is thinking carefully about such privacy issues.

“It’s very early days, and we are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass, because new technology always raises new issues,” said a Google spokesperson. “Our Glass Explorer program, which reaches people from all walks of life, will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology.”