Privacy Ref Blog

A Privacy Pro and Wearable Technology

Privacy professionals, including myself, have been warning of the dangers to privacy from wearable technology. The concerns I have been expressing have been based on reported product capabilities, anecdotal evidence, and published reports. So when I had the opportunity to join the Google Glass Explorer program, I jumped at the chance.

Getting Glass

I received by Glass about a week ago. Like a child receiving a new present I tore open the packaging to see the shiny new object inside. Following the instructions, I set up a Google+ account, downloaded an app to my smartphone, and charged the Glass. I was now ready to go, deferring setting the privacy settings on Google+ until later.

Without adding any glassware (apps), I began to try the thing out; I sent a text message to my wife. I made a phone call; I took a picture and shared it; and I took a very short video.

An unexpected creepiness factor

The next day I thought I was ready to take Glass out in public. Bright and early in the morning I put on Glass, leashed up the dog, and, as we stepped out the door, it happened…the  creepy feeling.

Whether I did it or not, I might be about to be perceived as invading my neighbors privacy. People I don’t know may think I am taking their picture or shooting a video that they think I will share with the world.

More importantly, will I be tempted to take those pictures and videos without asking permission? After all, to take a picture I just have to wink with my right eye (speaking of creepy,will the women think I am flirting?) and aside from a 2 or 3 second light in the screen that is easy to miss, no one will know I took the picture. I had come to he start of an ethical crossroad.

Privacy in public

Off my dog and I went, immediately meeting one of my neighbors, Arnie. Arnie was looking at me a little strangely as we talked but he didn’t ask about the Glass. This is one of the common reactions I get when people notice that I am wearing something “different”.

People who don’t know about the technology try to casually ignore what you are wearing. Arnie thought is was an aid for sight in my right eye. By not asking about Glass he was respecting my privacy. He thought if I wanted to share my maladies with him I would, otherwise it was none of his business.

My discomfort rose. How could I take anyone’s picture without their knowledge when they were respecting my privacy?

My dog and I returned home.

A personal privacy policy and notice

I decided I need to practice what I preach. I need to define my personal privacy policy for the use of Glass. What notice would I give? How would I give it? Would I want to obtain consent?  (I’d be interested in your comments.)

Over the coming weeks I will be using Glass in various social and professional situations. I am interested in how wearable technology will integrate into my life and how people will respond.

I am interested in how businesses will respond. Will security stop me from entering a store or an office building? Will I be asked to take them off Glass during a meeting?

How will other privacy professionals at the IAPP Summit react?

For now, if you see me coming just think of me as Alan Funt for 2014. “Smile, your on Candid Camera”.



Privacy Ref provides consulting and assessment services to build and improve organizational privacy programs. For more information call Privacy Ref at (888) 470-1528 or email us at

Posted on December 22, 2013 by Bob Siegel
Tags: , , , , ,

« »

No Responses

Comments are closed.

« »

Subscribe to our mailing list

Please fill out the form below.


Want to find out more?

Simply go to the contact page, fill out the form, and someone from Privacy Ref will be in touch with you. You can also send an email to or call (888) 470-1528.


April 16, 2018

IAPP Training Classes
Privacy Ref is proud to announce that we are an official training partner of the IAPP. You now have the opportunity to learn from one of our knowledgeable privacy professionals using the most respected training content in the industry. The robust interactive training offered, aids in the understanding of critical privacy concepts. The contents of the courses are integral to obtaining your privacy certifications and to educate your new team. Learn more here.

Latest Blog Posts

July 9, 2018

Don’t Forget Basic Communication
Most of us have been wrapped up in GDPR preparations for several months. While there are many organizations "not quite there yet", many others have made great strides towards compliance. As we continue to do assessments for clients, both GDPR and General Privacy,  I have been surprised at the frequency of the gap between a privacy official describing their organization's data subjects, information collected, and business processes  with the reality of what is happening. Continue reading this post...

California – The Next GDPR?
Starting January 1, 2020, if you are a for-profit company doing business in California, you may have new data privacy compliance obligations. Specifically, California just enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the country’s strictest data privacy law to date), placing new privacy mandates on certain businesses with respect to the personal information of consumers (defined as natural persons who are California residents). Many aspects of the new law smack of EU-GDPR influences, such as a new and improved (in other words, broader) definition of personal information and the inclusion of guaranteed consumer rights with respect to such personal information. If your business is already in compliance with the EU’s GDPR, the California law will be nothing new to you. For other businesses, however, you have 18 months to get with the program. Continue reading this post...

Other Recent Posts