Lawmakers fear privacy risks from Google Glass

Eight members of Congress raised privacy fears about Google's wearable computer, Google Glass, expressing concern the device could allow users to identify people on the street and look up personal information about them.

The lawmakers, members of the congressional Privacy Caucus, said they are concerned users could access individuals' addresses, marital status, work history and hobbies.

“As members of the Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus, we are curious whether this new technology could infringe on the privacy of the average American,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Google CEO Larry Page.

The letter was signed by Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas), John Barrow (D-Ga.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Rich Nugent (R-Fla), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.).

Google Glass, which is still under development, uses a voice interface to allow users to take pictures, send messages, look up directions or access the Internet. 

The lawmakers asked what kind of data Glass will collect, whether it will be able to use facial-recognition technology and whether people will be able to opt out of data collection.

They asked Page to explain how Google will decide whether to reject third-party applications based on privacy concerns and whether the company plans to alter its privacy policy.  

“We are thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues," a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. "Our Glass Explorer program, which reaches people from all walks of life, will ensure that our users become active participants in shaping the future of this technology — and we're excited to hear the feedback.”

The lawmakers noted that Google has run into problems with government regulators before over privacy violations, including for collecting information from home Wi-Fi networks without permission. They asked the company to explain how it will ensure that Glass does not unintentionally collect data without people's permission.