Stoddart to meet Google officials about concerns with Glass product

Canada’s privacy commissioner will sit down with Google to discuss what she and other data protection authorities described as “significant privacy issues” with Google Glass.

Google responded this week to a letter commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and 36 other local and international privacy specialists wrote about their concerns with the development of Google Glass, a wearable computer in the form of glasses.

In their June letter to Google, Stoddart and her counterparts questioned Google about how Glass would comply with privacy laws.

“As you have undoubtedly noticed, Google Glass has been the subject of many articles that have raised concerns about the obvious, and perhaps less obvious, privacy implications of a device that can be worn by an individual and used to film and record audio of other people,” the authorities wrote.

“Fears of ubiquitous surveillance of individuals by other individuals, whether through such recordings or through other applications currently being developed, have been raised.”

In response, Google’s global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said the product is being built with “users and non-users in mind.”

“In addition to Glass requiring spoken commands, users touch Glass to scroll through items or press a button on the arm to take a photo or record video — actions that also cause the Glass screen to activate, which is visible to others,” Fleischer wrote.

“These serve to both give Glass users means for employing etiquette in any given situation, and help people understand what Glass users are doing.”

Fleischer also said Google wouldn’t be approving any facial recognition features on Google Glass “at this time” without having “strong privacy protection in place.”

While the privacy commissioners’ office is happy that Google responded, communication manager Scott Hutchinson says it hopes the next step will be “a meaningful discussion” about the privacy issues related to Google Glass.

“Now that we have received a response, we intend to have a meeting with Google Canada to discuss the matter further,” Hutchinson tells Legal Feeds.

“We have requested a meeting and Google has agreed. We now await a date to be set.”

Google hopes to release Google Glass sometime in 2014.

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