Google Glass isn’t publicly available yet, and even the Explorer edition is supposed to only be for US residents, but that’s not stopping the Canadian government from getting out in front of what it considers to be several privacy issues surrounding the device.
Data protection authorities in Canada sent a letter today to Google CEO Larry Page, asking the company to take part in a “real dialogue” about the “significant privacy issues” related to Google Glass.
Here’s a portion of the letter, which is signed by Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and 36 provincial and international data regulators:
The letter commends Google for its strict developer guidelines on advertising in Glass, but says the signatories want to know more about how Glass complies with data protection laws, what data Google collects via Glass and shares with others and if Google is doing anything about “the surreptitious collection of information about other individuals.”
The group also asks Google to come and demo Glass. That’s something Google should plan on doing more of, frankly. In the six weeks I’ve had Glass, the few people that have expressed concern to me about being recorded are quickly put at ease after they learn how the device really works. In fact, at its I/O conference last month, Google said that such “social cues” should help alleviate some privacy questions.
We’ve reached out to Google for a response to the Canadian privacy letter and will update this post with any official response we get. Google has already addressed some questions about privacy, as you can see below in the related story links.
Postscript: A Google spokesperson shared this generic statement with us in response to the Canadian privacy letter; it’s very similar to Google’s statement when the US Congress sent a similar letter last month:
It’s very early days and we are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues. Our Glass Explorer program, which reaches people from all walks of life, will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology — and we’re excited to hear the feedback.