Google Glass: Congress Alarmed by Privacy Issues

Dennis Faas's picture

Eight members of the United States Congress have written to Google demanding the company address privacy issues involving its Google Glass project. The device, which essentially blends a smartphone with a pair of spectacles, has raised questions about data handling.

The letter comes from the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, which doesn't have any formal powers but offers elected officials a way to discuss topics they consider important. (Source:

It's clear from the letter that members of Congress are suspicious of Google. The letter points to the controversy surrounding Google Street View cameras and asks what measures are in place to stop Google Glass from becoming the subject of privacy complaints.

Facial Recognition a Key Concern

The politicians also ask whether it's possible the glasses could allow facial recognition tools to uncover personal information. An independent developer has already made a facial recognition app for Google Glass, though the aim is to help doctors recognize patients in a hospital.

The letter also demands more information from Google about how it will alter its existing privacy policies to take account of the Google Glass technology. Those behind the letter seem concerned that developers of third-party applications may not follow established privacy protocols.

Finally, the Congress members ask whether there will be any data storage on the device and if there will be a way of physically protecting that information.

In actual fact, the device does offer 12GB of storage to the user and early testers have already noted the lack of a PIN or swipe code to protect the data in case the glasses are lost or stolen.

Google Glass Boss Says Privacy Under Control

Although the letter asks Google to send a formal response by June 14, 2013, the company has already addressed some of the issues found in the note.

Speaking at a conference this week, the man in charge of managing Google Glass, Steve Lee, said the company had followed all its existing privacy policies when developing the device. (Source:

Lee added that his company had built in additional safeguards designed to make it harder to collect images surreptitiously.

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