Google Glass may have become available for purchase in the United Kingdom, but it will be getting no special treatment when it comes to data collection.
The gadget went on sale in the United Kingdom earlier this week and, along with it, the privacy concerns from the United States and legal issues of people carrying around cameras stuck to their glasses.
The Information Commissioner’s Office, the independent British regulator of data protection, privacy and freedom of information rights, has issued a statement on the topic.
”This week we saw the UK launch of Google Glass, one of several products that are set to take this processing of personal information to the next level. As this technology develops, people will understandably have reservations about the increasing amounts of personal information that these products are capable of collecting and transmitting,” said the regulator.
The statement then pointed to some media reports about the public spots in the US where Glass had been banned due to people’s concerns of being filmed without their knowledge.
This, they point out, is an important debate to be had around the privacy implications of wearable technology. “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,” they say.
That being said, if you use the device for your own use, then you are unlikely to be breaching the Act because it includes an exception for the collection of personal information for domestic purposes. If you want to start using the collected information for any other purpose than a personal one, such as to support a local campaign or to start a business, you’re no longer safe from the Data Protection 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,” the regulatory body said, adding that people needed to be informed about how their details were being collected, while the information that was gathered had to be relevant, adequate and not excessive.
Basically, for all intents and purposes, as long as the device is for personal use, British law sees it just like any other camera for now. Whether things will change remains to be seen as the debate continues.