Google Information Commissioner's Office Data & Privacy

Information Commissioner's Office fires Google Glass privacy warning to UK businesses following UK launch

By Angela Haggerty | Reporter

June 27, 2014 | 3 min read

The Information Commissioner’s Office has fired a data protection warning towards businesses following the launch of Google Glass in the UK.

Warning: Google Glass has prompted privacy concerns

ICO senior technology officer Andrew Paterson said in a blog post that organisations using any devices that can take pictures or record video must adhere to the ICO’s CCTV Code of Practice, and said the rise of wearable tech made the need for a debate on privacy more urgent.

“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,” Paterson wrote.

“However like any new technology, wearables must operate in compliance with the law. In the UK, this means making sure that these devices operate in line with the requirements of the UK Data Protection Act.

“If you are using a wearable technology for your own use then you are unlikely to be breaching the Act. This is not the case for organisations, whose use of wearable technology to process personal information will almost always be covered the Act. This means that they must process the information collected by these devices in compliance with the legislation.

“If the wearable technology is able to capture video or pictures then organisations must address the issues raised in our CCTV Code of Practice.”

Paterson added that the code is currently out for consultation and invited organisations to contribute views on the issue.

“The rise of wearable technology brings exciting new possibilities and is set to become widespread in the years ahead,” he said. “But organisations must not lose sight of the fact that wearables must still operate in compliance with the law and consumers’ personal information must be looked after.”

Google this week made Glass available in the UK for the first time following extensive trials in the US. The device is not yet fully available to the market and function is still being developed. However, Google last year revealed that social networks including Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter were working on developing apps for Glass.

The device has already run into trouble because of privacy concerns, and in May last year US politicians demanded the tech giant answer concerns around privacy. Two months later Google published an FAQ section in an attempt to quell concerns.

In the UK, lawyer Phillip Hannay last year warned that some of the recording capabilities of Google Glass could breach UK laws.

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