Google Glass Raises Privacy Issues

Even though Google Glass is not available yet, a Seattle bar has already banned the high-tech eyewear, citing privacy concerns for patrons.

The 5 Point Café & Bar posted the announcement on its Facebook wall last week. While the post is tongue-in-cheek, owner Dave Meinert told KIRO-FM, “Part of this is a joke, to be funny on Facebook, and get reaction. But part of it’s serious, because we don’t let people film other people or take photos unwanted of people in the bar, because it is kind of a private place that people go.” With the bar’s location near Amazon’s headquarters, Meinert adds that, “It’s OK if you wear them. I just don’t want them worn inside.”

While Meinert self-acknowledges the announcement is partly a joke, it’s a sensible opinion. Privacy issues have always walked hand-in-hand with technological innovation. One example is 2009’s Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, which required any mobile phones containing a digital camera to sound a tone whenever a photograph was taken. Cell phone privacy has always been a concern among users as soon as they arrived on the market. Who wants to be secretly filmed or videotaped at a bar without permission and have the video immediately posted on the Internet?

In a video by GeekWire, the website polled Seattle residents walking out of 5 Point. The responses were mixed: one patron states he supports any organizations that chooses to “stem the tide of unlimited access to anybody’ss information anytime,” while others doubted the bar’s decision to ban technology moving forward. However, as another interviewee added, “You can’t stop technology … It’s new, you just don’t know what people will use them for.”

While a Google spokesman told CNET, “It is still very early days for Glass, and we expect that as with other new technologies, such as cell phones, behaviors and social norms will develop over time,” there will likely be more bans of Google Glass by certain businesses, such as movie theaters, bars, and clubs. The $1,500 price tag will limit how many people will actually be donning the eyewear, but it will be interesting to see what kind of regulations will be put into place once Google Glass comes out on the market. Tell us: how do you feel about Google Glass and privacy?

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