UK Regulator: Google Glass Will Be Under Data Protection Laws

The UK’s independent Information Commissioner’s Office has said Google Glass, when used by companies, must comply with the country’s data protection laws. The assertion comes just days after Google Glass was officially released in Britain.

Google Glass

Photo: Loic Le Meur / Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Paterson, senior technology officer at ICO, wrote that information collected by Google Glass must abide by the Data Protection Act.

“However like any new technology, wearables must operate in compliance with the law. In the UK, this means making sure that these devices operate in line with the requirements of the UK Data Protection Act.”

This excludes domestic purposes and more so targets companies that are gathering data on customers using Google Glass. Virgin Atlantic, for example, is already running a check-in service where staff wears Glass, though this hasn’t been rolled out to the general customer base yet.

“If you are using a wearable technology for your own use then you are unlikely to be breaching the Act,” explained Paterson.

“But if you were to one day decide that you’d like to start using this information for other purposes outside of your personal use, for example to support a local campaign or to start a business, then this exemption would no longer apply.”

This means companies using Glass need to make customers fully aware that Glass is being used and what data is being collected. The data must only be relevant to the business, stored securely and deleted when no longer required, according to the Act.

Paterson also explains that Google Glass for business is subject to the CCTV Code of Practice, if the device is ever filming.

“The rise of wearable technology brings exciting new possibilities and is set to become widespread in the years ahead,” says Paterson. “But organisations must not lose sight of the fact that wearables must still operate in compliance with the law and consumers’ personal information must be looked after.”