Google Glass Explainer Too Little for Privacy-Sensitive Congressman

A congressional privacy group is seeking more information about Google Glass.

ByABC News
July 2, 2013, 3:37 PM

July 2, 2013 — -- The co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus today expressed disappointment with Google's response to his petition for the technology company to address and explain its Google Glass privacy policies.

"I am disappointed in the responses we received from Google," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, said in a statement released today. "There were questions that were not adequately answered and some not answered at all.

"Google Glass has the potential to change the way people communicate and interact. When new technology like this is introduced that could change societal norms, I believe it is important that people's rights be protected and vital that privacy is built into the device."

Barton and seven other members of the congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus asked Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page in June to answer a series of questions about its connected glasses, which overlay digital information in the physical world, by June 14. A spokesperson for Barton clarified to ABC News that his response was not on behalf of the entire caucus, but just as the co-chair of the group.

RELATED: How Google Glass Works

Google's Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations Susan Molinari responded to the questions in a letter by the deadline, although it is only now being released to the public.

"Protecting the security and privacy of our users is one of our top priorities," Molinari, a former New York congresswoman, wrote in the letter dated June 7.

"We recognize that new technology is going to bring up new types of questions, so we have been thinking carefully about how we design Glass from its inception."

The full letter can be read here.

Addressing the photo and video concerns, she explained that there are built-in signals that show other people that Glass might be recording a video or photo. She also answers all the eight questions, although a Barton representative told ABC News that the congressman was dissatisfied specifically with Google's responses to the questions about nonusers.

Specifically, Google's Molinari says, Google Glass does not have facial-recognition capabilities and the company will not approve any apps that attempt to use such features.

"We've consistently said that Google won't add face-recognition features to our own services unless we have appropriate privacy protections in place," she said.

When reached by ABC News, Google declined to comment on Barton's response.

The company has expanded its Explorer program to more Glass testers in the past few weeks. Google Glass Explorers, who have had to pay $1,500 for the early version of the glasses, have been testing them in various areas.

NBA draft-pick Victor Oladipo wore Google Glass during the actual draft last week. He was asked to remove them by the NBA, though it's unclear why.

Tennis star Bethanie Mattek-Sands also wore the glasses at Wimbledon this week.

Google updated the glasses Monday with the ability to browse the Web. You can read more about how Google Glass works here.