Will Google Glass Wearers Face Criminal Charges?
But those problems pale in comparison to one flagged this week by Paul Alan Levy, an attorney with the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. Levy says that Google Glass wearers in around a dozen states could potentially face criminal prosecution for recording people without their knowledge.
"Many states require the consent of all parties to a conversation -- at least, conversations not occurring in public situations -- and provide both criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for damages and injunctive relief when communications are recorded without consent by all participants,” he writes in a blog post. States to require that all parties consent to a recording include California, Florida, and Washington. (Levy previously represented MediaPost in a successful effort to unseal a report provided to a federal court by Google, in a matter unrelated to Google Glass.)
To date, no one appears to have been prosecuted, or even sued in civil court, for using Google Glass to record people without their consent. Of course, the technology is still so new that few people have the devices at this point, so it's not surprising that courts haven't yet dealt with this issue.
One question that will almost certainly come up in any disputes is whether people who are recorded implicitly consent by talking to someone who's wearing Google Glass. After all, the devices are fairly distinctive, and are worn in the open.
Another unanswered question centers on Google's potential liability for storing information that might be obtained illegally. Earlier this week, telecom and cable consultant -- and frequent Google critic -- Scott Cleland raised that issue in a blog post.Despite Cleland's anti-Google take on the question, it seems unlikely that the company would be held responsible for potential violations by users. In fact, given the growth of cloud storage services, many cyberlockers might be storing audio or video recordings that were made without the consent of all parties. So far, however, none of those storage services have been accused of violating wiretapping laws.