Image source: Ray Ban

Data privacy organizations express concern about Facebook’s new smart glasses

The Facebook smart glasses, made in collaboration with Ray-Ban, have caused concern with a number of regulatory bodies including the Irish Data Privacy Organization (DPC) and Italian Garante Privacy. The technology giant has been asked to provide evidence that the device can properly inform the people it is recording.

Ray Ban Stories smart specs were presented by the technology giant just last week. They come with two built-in cameras, a microphone and speaker. However, the smart specs have attracted the attention not only of the media, but also of regulatory bodies in a number of countries.


Regulators express privacy concerns

One of these is the Italian association called Garante Privacy, which is tasked with user data security in the country. They have asked DPC to get answers from Mark Zuckerberg’s company on whether the device complies with privacy laws. The Irish DPC is the leading EU body for monitoring Facebook’s activities. This is because the European business of the technology giant is stationed in Dublin.

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It is generally accepted that many devices, including smartphones, can record so-called third-party individuals. But it is usually the case that it is clear to the person that they are being recorded. The camera or phone can clearly be seen recording, thus informing individuals, the Irish regulator says. The question that is being posed now is whether the Facebook-Ray Ban product goes far enough to indicate when the recording function is active.

Facebook has so far failed to provide convincing evidence that the glasses have that capability, the DPC notes. Ray Ban Stories have a very small LED indicator light built on the camera. When shooting this shines in bright white.

The idea is that this is enough to notify people nearby when a person is taking pics or recording. However, neither the DPC nor Garante Privacy are satisfied that Facebook or Ray-Ban have conducted comprehensive field testing to ensure that the said indicator light is an effective means of communication.

Smart Ray-Ban glasses are Facebook’s next product
Image source: Ray-Ban

Facebook’s smart glasses don’t have any details to suggest that they’re special apart from a small pod on one side of the specs. They look like a regular pair of Wayferers. In addition to pic taking, they can be used to issue hands-free voice assistant commands, as well as to make calls and send messages, listen to podcasts and music.

The DPC and Garante Privacy are now calling on Facebook to provide evidence that the LED indicator light is effective for its purpose. They are also asking the tech giant to launch an information campaign to warn the public about how this new product could lead to privacy issues.

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