The Information Commissioner’s Office has clarified its position on data collection using wearable technology following the launch of Google Glass in the UK.
The ICO has said that gadgets like Glass will be treated the same as smartphones and digital cameras so that information collected “for domestic purposes” (just for the individual) is exempt from the Act while anything recorded for organisations will have to comply with certain rules.
These include informing individuals about how their details are being collected and only collecting information that is deemed “relevant, adequate and not excessive”.
Writing in a blog post for the ICO, Senior Technology Officer Andrew Paterson said: “There is an important debate to be had around the privacy implications of wearable technology and it will ultimately be for society to decide how comfortable they are with wearables.”
Google Glass: Everything you need to know
Google Glass: Everything you need to know
Think of Glass as having a smartphone on your face. You control it either using voice commands (eg, 'Okay Glass, directions to British Museum') or the touch panel on the right arm (eg, swipe down to go back in any menu). It can shoot video and photos without connecting to the internet but you need to connect to the web via a smartphone or Wi-Fi to use apps (dubbed 'Glassware). Google hopes it's the future (ie you'll be using Google all the time), others think it's just too geeky or creepy to ever take off.
Glass is about as powerful as a mid-range smartphone with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of memory slotted into the right arm of the frame. The prism-style screen has a resolution of 640 by 360 and sound is conveyed either by a bone conduction speaker (using vibrations into your skull) or using an earphone. The camera has a five-megapixel resolution and can shoot video at 720p. There's also a proximity sensor to turn it on automatically when picked up. Engineers have estimated that the innards cost around £100 with Google's R&D accounting for the rest of the cost.
3/6 Glass in the UK
Anyone in the UK over 18 and with £1000 burning a hole in their pocket can buy Glass. It's available online or through Google's London 'Basecamp' - essentially a fitting station to give you an introduction to the technology (that's the LA one on the left, expect London's to be less sunny). Glass has launched with five apps (known as 'Glasware' in the UK) including a running 'audio game', a star map and a news app from The Guardian.
The location of Glass's screen in the top right of users' vision has led to complaints of headaches. Experts say that the display is in one of the least comfortable areas of humans' field of vision (early prototypes put the screen directly in front of the ye but was too obstructive), although Google says that its only a problem for a small number of users: “Glass is designed for micro-interactions, not for staring into the screen, watching Friday night movie marathons or reading War and Peace.”
Google has been keen to market Glass as a fashionable product, placing the device on catwalks and between the covers of Vogue. The company has partnered with Luxottica (owner of the Ray-Ban brand) as well as designer Diane von Fürstenberg to make special frames. Google's own designs are known as the Titanium Series (left) with perscription lenses costing extra. However, this association with the catwalk has done nothing to shake the criticism that Glass - and its price tag - are elitist.
6/6 Using Glass
Google has partnered with everyone from doctors to engineers to show how Glass can be useful - essentially by helping people in high-pressure professions who need hands-free access to information on the spot. However, this isn't an argument for Glass becoming a consumer product. Advocates of Glass say that it takes away a layer between technology and peoples' lives - and while this may be useful some of the time it's hardly a killer application. Besides, having to make a conscious decision to look at our smartphones may actually help us look at them less. If there's no separation between reality and tech, why would ever put the latter away?
This clarification from the ICO essentially exempts them responsibility in cases where an individual’s collection of data might be deemed ‘excessive’.
A spokesperson for the organization told The Independent that in individual cases it would be up to the police to decide whether or not the recording constituted harassment – usually defined as behaviour that causes another distress or alarm occurring during at least two occasions.
Property owners will be able to ban the use of Glass (as has happened in several bars in San Francisco) in response to customers’ concerns about cover filming, and several UK companies have already clarified their position on Glass.
The Vue cinema chain has said it would ask guests to remove the eyewear, while Starbucks and Costa Coffee said they would ask wearers not to use Glass “inappropriately”.
Others have said that they will be waiting to evaluate the situation, while Google itself has said “the fact that Glass is worn above the eyes and the screen lights up whenever it’s activated clearly signals it’s in use and makes it a fairly lousy surveillance device.”
Clearly it seems that the reasonable use of Glass will depend on users' common sense and politeness, although with the gadget costing £1000 any issues are unlikely to be widespread.Reuse content