Journal of Information & Privacy Law

Google Glass: A Technological Benefit or a Future Legal Nightmare?

By Margaret Domanski, Lead Production Editor on Sunday, March 30th, 2014
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Innovations in technology are typically associated with countless benefits and new potential improvements to the way we live. Google Glass is expected to hit the market in April 2014.  This new technology will allow an individual to wear glasses with the capabilities of a computer. Google Glass allows the wearer to take pictures, record video, access GPS, send messages, and have the power of Google search at a blink of an eye or with simple voice command.

However, Google Glass may pose a threat to privacy and intellectual property. If Google Glass becomes the next hot trend in wearable technology, what kind of ramifications will that have on an individual’s privacy? Furthermore, what kind of impact will it have on the world of intellectual property?

How would you feel if somebody could secretly film or take a picture of you by just a blink of an eye? We live in a society where people are constantly taking ridiculous pictures and videos. Then within a blink of an eye, these photos can be posted and spread like wildfire all over Facebook or Instagram. What kind of behavior will Google Glass introduce into a society that is already obsessed by catching every moment of the day for the purpose of posting it online? Though now with the ability of Google Glass no one will even know that they are being recorded or photographed. Such technology poses a threat to a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

This technology can be beneficial to some, but more likely will be abused by others to take photographs of classified documents, record conversations in a flash, and send or upload anything with a simple voice command. Google Glass will also be equipped with applications. One such “app” in particular is called NameTag. Nametag allows the wearer to look at a person, and through facial recognition technology, learn everything that is available online about that individual.

Google Glass will also make it more difficult to protect patents and copyrights from infringement. A wearer will be able to record and upload any information that she comes into contact with. A wearer can use Google Glass as a mobile scanner creating the potential for reproducing an invention after just viewing it once. Businesses will have to take precautions to protect themselves. For example, if a Google Glass wearer is able to wear the device in a movie theater, increased piracy of movies is likely.

The introduction of Google Glass into the market will raise some interesting legal questions.  Do our current laws provide enough protection to those who are secretly photographed, recorded, or victimized by a Google Glass wearer? How will Google Glass effect criminal procedures, i.e., if someone walks into a movie theater and refuses to consent to a search, will authorities be able to seize the Google Glass  and use the evidence that they recover? Does the Fourth Amendment require a warrant to search this wearable technology? Only time will tell how this new technology will impact an individual’s legal rights to privacy and the intellectual property industry.

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