Congress seeks Google Glass privacy assurances

The Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus raises questions about potential unauthorized data collection

Eight members of Congress on Thursday asked Google Inc. to respond to privacy concerns related to its Google Glass wearable computer.

The glasses will allow users to use the Internet, record video, send text messages and take photos, among other capabilities. They aren’t for sale yet, but the Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus raised some preemptive concerns about the technology in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page.

Among the lawmakers’ inquiries were questions regarding the potential for unauthorized data collection, including the possibility that the product’s facial recognition technology could be used “to unveil personal information about whomever and even some inanimate objects that the user is viewing.”

The letter also referenced Google’s recent $7 million settlement with the Federal Communications Commission, after an inquiry revealed that the tech company had collected personal data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks while taking pictures for its Street View project. “While we are thankful that Google acknowledged that there was an issue and took responsible measures to address it, we would like to know how Google plans to prevent Google Glass from unintentionally collecting data about the user/non-user without consent,” the letter reads.

The lawmakers asked Google to respond to their questions by June 14.

A Google spokesman told the New York Times in a statement that the company will not add additional face recognition features to their services “unless we have strong privacy protections in place.” The company has also stated that it will apply its existing privacy and data collection safeguards to Google Glass.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of privacy issues, see:

Bloomberg admits to snooping scandal

FTC warns data brokers of possible privacy violations

GCs predict increase in consumer fraud and privacy class actions

Hiring law firm in wake of data breach gives companies the secrecy of privilege

Social networking app settles over privacy violations

New FTC recommendations target mobile privacy concerns

 

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