What Google Glass May Bring - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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What Google Glass May Bring

What Google Glass May Bring

Imagine a world where anyone within sight distance can be recording you, and you had no way of knowing. Hyperbole? Maybe, but as the public sale of Google Glass nears, this reality is not as far-fetched as it may seem. For those who don’t know, Google Glass is essentially a computer in the form of eyewear. These glasses have an optical head-mounted display, along with a small camera. The frames used are comparable to sunglasses, and Google is working to integrate the display with prescription lenses.

So the next question is, what does it do?  While wearing Google Glass, users can take photos, record high-resolution video, or browse the Internet by giving simple voice commands. There are not just significant safety implications; there are also serious concerns about the impact Glass may have on privacy and on how businesses operate. 

In California, a woman has challenged the first ticket given for wearing Google Glass while driving. A San Diego judge ultimately dismissed the citation, stating that it is legal in California to wear Google Glass while driving so long as it is not in operation. Obviously, this creates serious questions about the ability of an officer to actually prove that Google Glass was on and active while a user is driving, especially once the technology is fully incorporated into consumer’s everyday prescription glasses.

With regards to privacy, the recording feature of Google Glass has already caused a bit of a stir for Glass beta testers. Of course, in this day and age, with smart phones everywhere, there is an assumption by many that pictures or videos might be taken of them at any time. However, the distinction with Google Glass is that as of now, there is no indicator light to show that a Glass user is recording. With Google Glass, those pictures and videos can be easily taken without a person’s knowledge.

Google Glass also presents a number of other potential issues. Users can record and then upload trade secrets almost instantly.  In January, a Glass wearer was pulled out of a movie theater by Homeland Security agents and accused of piracy. There are more and more stories of businesses banning the use of Google Glass in their establishments.

These incidents raise some interesting legal questions. For example, what if the man in the movie theater had refused to consent to a search? Does the Fourth Amendment require that a warrant be issued to search such wearable technology? The Supreme Court may potentially address this issue when it hears Riley v. California and United States v. WurieWhile these two cases deal with hand-held technology, there may be precedent that will apply to Glass technology in the future. In the next few years, lawmakers will surely be watching the impact of Google Glass and considering new laws and regulations to deal with these legal issues and others as they arise.


Eric Small

Eric Small is a second year Fordham law student and staff member of the Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law Journal. His interest in Sports and Media law comes from his unhealthy love of sports and devotion to the New York Giants and Islanders. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and bad TV.