Google Glass Coming to Your Workplace

Wearable computing is creating quite a stir, and its likely introduction into the workplace is worth preparing for.

Google Glass is still in field trials and not generally available, but already it has been banned from places that don't want people to be able to compute, take photos, record, access the internet, and generally be a walking computer, through a pair of glasses.

Privacy authorities in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Israel are concerned.  They have written to Google to remind them of the law on collecting, using and disclosing personal information, and to chastise Google for not consulting with them on privacy and data protection issues.  Google's response emphasized user consent and user control.  As for others - the potential subjects of recording, photography and video by Google Glass - Google relies on "some signals" built into Glass to "help people understand what Glass users are doing."

More helpfully, Google suggests that some parties may in fact take their own measures to address the use of Google Glass.  This is where employers come in.  The Privacy Commissioner of BC enforces privacy laws against organizations, not against individuals who may be collecting personal information with their Google Glass.  So it is up to employers to decide if and how Google Glass might be used in the course of work.

Here are some things to think about wearable computing technology like Google Glass:

  • Can it be useful in your business?
  • Can it be harmful or wasteful?
  • Are there safety concerns?
  • What concerns might employees have about its use in the workplace?
  • What existing policies need to be adapted to deal with wearable computers?
  • How do you control the pictures, video and other data recorded or collected at work?
  • What happens to the data when it is in the hands of Google?


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