IT Should Ban Google Glass Before It's Too Late

Google's soon-to-be-publicly-available wearable technology exposes your company to problems ranging from illegal wiretapping and surveillance to a wild spectrum of inappropriate uses. Columnist Rob Enderle writes that you should do yourself a favor and ban Google Glass before it is even available to your employees.

By Rob Enderle
Fri, December 13, 2013

CIO — I was reading a post by Scott Cleland on how Google Glass use might result in an illegal wiretapping charge and it brought back memories of when I almost got arrested for this myself years ago when I was running a small security unit. I basically got off with the young and stupid defense, but I realized that youth would eventually go away and the stupid defense alone doesn't seem to carry as much weight.

If you aren't familiar with Google Glass, it's a head-mounted, always-on, sound- and video-capture device that uploads what it sees to the Web. I'll touch on the wiretapping argument, but also talk about some of the other problems that are likely to result from this technology.

Wiretapping's Not What It Used to Be

Wiretapping laws are somewhat inconsistent state to state and -- based on the Eric Snowden disclosures -- are pretty much ignored by the NSA. However, that doesn't mean they aren't or can't be enforced. Now an employee using Google Glass at work probably is at reasonably low risk unless he uses the technology to capture a manager or fellow employee behaving badly enough to get fired. Still the company may be able to use the material and whether the firm or individual is liable for damage will likely depend on the laws that are enforced in the state.

[Related: 5 Things Businesses Need to Know About Google Glass]

Before you use Google Glass in an action, you should at least have a discussion with your legal department on what might happen should an employee catch inappropriate language, inappropriate behavior, theft or some other serious violation of employment policy on one of these devices. It would be pretty embarrassing to fire someone for a legitimate cause and then make them rich because you did so illegally.

[Related: Busting the 7 Worst Myths About Google Glass]

Still this suggests there may be a beneficial use to these glasses. After all, you proably already use security cameras successfully, though you do have to be careful where you put them (generally bathrooms are bad locations, for instance, which is why drug trades are supposedly often done there).

More Google Glass Problems

Now you'd likely conclude that issues with Google Glass would include the taping of employees and managers behaving badly: i. e., racist and sexist comments, inappropriate language, even unacceptable behavior (drug or alcohol abuse). However, what about staged crimes to make the company look bad? With Google Glass -- and we already have issues with cell phone cameras -- the likelihood of an issue with a camera that is already on and where someone is tricked into believing he saw something that reflects on the company badly is even more likely to get social attention.

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