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ICO says Google Glass is 'uncontroversial' but warns of privacy concerns

Says wearables must be compliant with the UK Data Protection Act
Thu Jun 26 2014, 16:42
Google Glass

THE UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is considering the impact in of Google Glass in the UK.

In a blog post, the ICO discussed the positives and the challenges of such technology, and suggests what users might have to expect when, as it predicts, the gear becomes as popular as mobile phones.

"Not so long ago, the collection of personal information by body worn devices was limited to trials in specific police forces, and others that could afford the specialist equipment," said Andrew Paterson, senior technology officer at the ICO.

"However, recent progress in hardware means that wearable technology may well become as common as mobile phones, as more and more technology companies start bringing out new devices that use personal information to make your life that little bit easier."

The ICO has considered Glass and wearables and found that while their ability to store and analyse data is personally useful it is also of potential interest to others.

Paterson said that wearables are 'uncontroversial' if the data is used at home, but added that other functions might share information with others.

With respect to Google Glass, he added, one concern is the fact that the spectacles can film people, and another is the response that places like cinemas and bars might have to wearers.

"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," he said.

"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."

Individual users should be able to wear their technology and use it without breaching the Data Protection Act, he added, but anyone that takes the information and uses it towards a business purpose would have to let the ICO know.

"The rise of wearable technology brings exciting new possibilities and is set to become widespread in the years ahead," he concluded. "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." µ


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