Ireland isn’t sold on Facebook’s smart glasses, privacy remains a major concern

Social media users aren’t the only ones sceptical about Facebook’s newly launched smart glasses and the implications the device may have on the privacy of third parties.

On September 17, Ireland’s data privacy regulator announced that it had asked Facebook to demonstrate that an LED indicator light on its smart glasses can effectively alert people that they are being filmed or photographed. 

A statement issued by the Irish regulator said the following, “While it is accepted that many devices including smartphones can record third party individuals, it is generally the case that the camera or the phone is visible as the device by which recording is happening, thereby putting those captured in the recordings on notice,

With the glasses, there is a very small indicator light that comes on when recording is occurring. It has not been demonstrated to the DPC and Garante that comprehensive testing in the field was done by Facebook or Ray-Ban to ensure the indicator LED light is an effective means of giving notice.”

The Italian data protection regulator, the Garante, had also shared its concerns with Facebook’s new device. On September 10, the Italian regulator had asked Facebook for clarifications on the effectiveness of the smart glasses’ LED light in an attempt to assess whether the device complied with privacy laws. 

Facebook’s first-ever smart glasses were made in collaboration with Ray-Ban creator, EssilorLuxottica. The device will allow users to listen to music, podcasts, and take calls in new ways.

Users can also take photos and short videos to share across social media via a companion app.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, introduced his smart glasses as an innovative means of interacting with social media. However, it is uncertain whether the subjects of these photos and videos will be aware that their image is being taken and shared with potentially thousands of users across the internet.

Facebook has yet to ease the regulator’s (and the public’s) concerns.