By Alexandra Burlacu | May 17, 2013 01:36 PM EDT
Google Glass is a hot new gadget, but various concerns over privacy issues raise questions and the Congress has a particular interest in the matter.
A group of Congress members took action already and sent a public letter to Google CEO Larry Page, inquiring about privacy and data concerns Google Glass may cause.
The letter (PDF) addressed to Larry Page comes from eight members of Congress, led by U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, Texas. According to the letter, the members of the Congressional bipartisan Privacy Caucus are concerned about Google Glass and potential misuse of the information it gathers. The members also expressed concerns on whether Google Glass will "infringe on the privacy of the average American."
Google Glass is a cool little gadget able to record video footage and snap photos based on voice commands, and the developer phase of the gadget already saw jailbreaks. With enough modifications, Google Glass could end up serving as a means to accidentally (or not) record everything around the user, without any indicative behavior or expressions.
The letter also comes at a time when the tech world is still hyping about Google's annual I/O developer conference. Developers, as well as those who shelled out $1500 for the prototype gadget, are currently receiving valuable insight on how to develop apps for Google Glass.
The Google Glass Explorer program is designed to develop the app ecosystem before the product makes its official debut sometime next year.
While Glass' capabilities sound neat and exciting, the Congress members want to know whether the gadget will use facial recognition technology to unveil personal information about people or objects, and whether it could collect data without the consent of others. Naturally, the members of Congress are also interested in what Google would do to prevent such issues.
The letter further cites a notorious case from back in 2010, when the tech giant inadvertently collected information from unsecured wireless networks across the world. That case resulted in Google paying out $7 million in damages to settle the matter. While the letter reckons that Google rectified that situation, it asks how the tech giant plans to ensure that history will not repeat itself and Google Glass will not innocuously collect data with or without user permission.
Another concern, meanwhile, is whether Google Glass, when it officially hits the market, will serve as a catalyst for Google to make additional changes to its privacy policies, and whether the tech giant will use the device itself to both store and collect data. If it does store information on the device itself, the members of Congress ask whether Google will security measures in place to safeguard said stored data.
The Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus focuses on probing the privacy and data practices and implications of large corporations and organizations, including Amazon, Google, Apple and the Social Security Administration.
Representatives John Barrow, Henry C. Johnson Jr., Walter ones, Steve Chabot, Richard Nugent, Loretta Sanchez and Bobby Rush signed the letter as well. The members of Congress gave Google until June 14 to answer all questions and address concerns.
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