Is Google's Glass a surveillance device?

1 April 2014

google glass Over in That Australia, there's a proposal to overhaul of state and federal privacy laws and with it, things could get a bit tricky for those making wearable technology, in particular, Google Glass.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has put forward an approach to privacy, with regards to technology, which is technology-neutral in their definition of "surveillance device". Basically, what the ALRC are saying is that things like Google Glass are able to record private conversations or activities and if you haven't got consent, then it should be illegal.

"Offences in surveillance device laws should include an offence proscribing the surveillance or recording of private conversations or activities without the consent of the participants," say the ALRC.

"This offence should apply regardless of whether the person carrying out the surveillance is a participant to the conversation or activity, and regardless of whether the monitoring or recording takes place on private property."

Now, of course, people can film things with their mobile phones or digital cameras, but it is a little more clear if someone is filming you with a handset. With Glass, someone could film you without you necessarily knowing. And obviously, governments like to copy each other, so if this move proves popular, we could see personal privacy rules being brought in, with regards to Glass, by other countries.

There's already been bother with a Glass wearer who went to the cinema with them on, which ended up with homeland security being called out. There's a whole host of personal privacy issues for anyone who is online, so is Glass potentially a personal privacy minefield which Google are ignoring, or hoping no-one will notice or care?

TOPICS:   Technology   Privacy   Gadgets


  • James
    Seems more like a statute to prevent the recording of corrupt police and bailiffs than clamping down of some silly Glass wearers.
  • Glass A.
    [...] Is Google’s Glass a surveillance device?, [...]
  • Gray
    I think that the ALRC should do something about it and if the ALRC takes action now, all the other countries will follow.
  • Simon P.
    Google Glass is pretty much the least covert camera imaginable. You were it on your face, you have to stare at someone to record them, a bright light appears when recording and the display is transparent and visible from both sides so others can see what you are doing. A phone can easily be concealed in a shirt pocket, and has much more storage and battery stamina. Someone could also place a phone against their ear as if they are making a call, while secretly recording everything to their side.

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