Aust Privacy Commissioner requests Google Glass privacy briefing

Aust Privacy Commissioner requests Google Glass privacy briefing

Summary: The Australian Privacy Commissioner has requested that Google provide his office with a briefing to put to rest the privacy implications that Google Glass might bring.

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Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has requested a briefing with Google to discuss the potential privacy implications Google Glass may bring.

Pilgrim's request was first outed by The Australian Financial Review, and will see Google, if it agrees to a briefing, explain how it will minimise privacy concerns.

Glass has led some to believe that it will herald the "end of privacy", such as Australian Senator Cory Bernardi, who predicted a world where footage, speech, and video were matched to users' Google profiles. In the US, West Virginia has put forth legislation to ban devices like Glass while driving.

Yet, Google is taking some of the privacy concerns seriously, prohibiting developers from creating in-app advertising, collecting user data beyond what they need for their app, or passing user data to advertisers. Its developer policy also requires app authors to respect a user's request to delete all information they provide, except where local legislation requires them to maintain a record.

Google has an overarching statement in its policies, which says: "Glass is not intended for use in connection with applications and services that might be subject to industry-specific privacy regulations. Do not create applications that generate or transmit data that is subject to these regulations." This has an effect of making Glass incompatible with any regulated industry.

For example, theoretical Glassware that visually scans credit card numbers in place of a point of sales device could be subject to the payment card industry's data security standard, and thus would be prohibited.

As for who Google will send to brief the commissioner is currently unknown. Google Australia had not responded to ZDNet's queries at the time of writing, but it is understood that no engineers in Google's Australian office work on Glass' development, and only a select few Australian staff have even had the opportunity to try the glasses on themselves.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard was recently able to test-drive a pair, but only after Google's chief financial officer Patrick Pichette visited her office. Pichette was not made available for media interviews to discuss the product during his stay.

The commissioner has previously requested information from Google, recently querying it on allegations that Google Play was sending personal details to developers that purchased apps on its marketplace. These claims were eventually found to be bogus, with Google stating at the time that it "shares the information needed to process transactions, and this is clearly stated in the Google Wallet Privacy Notice".

Google's Australian office nevertheless responded to the commissioner's queries, stating that it is considering updating its privacy notice (PDF) based on his feedback.

The Privacy Commissioner was also involved in Google's Street-view incident, asking it to delete Street View data it accidentally kept. Google complied with the request before finding more data. It eventually obliterated the remaining records.

Topics: Privacy, Google, Australia

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • Is he also meeting with the fox he's putting in

    charge of the hen house? Banning them will minimize privacy concerns.
    Johnny Vegas