Arrest Caught On Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate : All Tech Considered The wearable technology, which is being tested by a select group of users, was used to record an arrest on the Jersey Shore. The incident raises questions about citizen journalism and the limits of privacy in public.
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Arrest Caught On Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate

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Arrest Caught On Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate

Arrest Caught On Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate

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This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish. And it's time now for All Tech Considered.


CORNISH: And we start at the Jersey Shore.


CORNISH: Over the July 4th holiday, as throngs of people strolled the Boardwalk of Wildwood, New Jersey, a fight broke out.



CORNISH: It was caught on video by a passerby and posted to the Web. We're hearing some of it now. But it wasn't a video camera or a Smartphone that recorded the incident, it was something new: Google Glass. The device has many features of a Smartphone that looks like a pair of eyeglasses.

And joining us to talk about why this simple recording is raising some big questions is NPR's Elise Hu. And, Elise, first tell us how did this come about? Where did this video come from?

ELISE HU, BYLINE: Well, there was a documentary filmmaker named Chris Barrett, who had just gotten some Google Glasses and he took them out on a stroll to test them out. Glass covers a users eye and with a small screen that can display email, text messages, even show you the weather. It also shoots pictures and video.

Barrett said he filmed some fireworks at first and then, on the boardwalk after, he came up on the scuffle. So from a first person perspective, can see the tense crowd, the shirtless men fighting, and a drunken throng. Eventually, police show up and arrest the scrappers. And you can see the whole scene as filmed by Mr. Barrett.

CORNISH: So what's the significance of this? I mean, there are tons and tons of videos of fights online.

HU: Sure, but since Google Glass is only available to a small batch of test users, we believe this is the first arrest caught on the Google Glass camera. Glass can do many things and video is one of them. And Google Glasses look a lot like regular eyeglasses if you aren't really paying attention.

CORNISH: So how is this any different than what you could get by using a cell phone camera?

HU: It isn't. The difference is that the folks in the scene were captured without the knowledge that they were being filmed, essentially. Now, Barrett said that had he been using a Smartphone to film, he would have gotten beaten up because somebody probably would have noticed he was shooting. So, citizen journalism is certainly being made easier, which is exciting. But some fear citizen snooping is made easier, too.

West Virginia lawmakers are already trying to ban Google Glass while driving. And Las Vegas casinos are banning Glass as well.

CORNISH: So is this a sign of the future, that we're all essentially, you know, on undercover video?

HU: Well, you could describe that as a sign of the present, even, with video cameras on our Smartphones and the apps to share them becoming so mainstream. But video is one of the Google Glass features that members of Congress were most scared of when they wrote an official letter to Google about privacy concerns. Google responded, saying it has no plans to change its privacy policy to deal with Glass-specific concerns but that it was thinking carefully about lawmaker feedback.

CORNISH: Elise, thanks so much for talking with us.

HU: Thank you.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Elise Hu. She covers technology and culture, and writes for our All Tech Considered blog.

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