The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) has expressed concern over the growing craze of wearable technology. The latest gadget released this week is “Google Glass”, a pair of glasses that allows you to video and photograph your surroundings, which is now available for purchase in the UK if you are over 18.
In an ICO blog post this week Senior Technology Officer for the ICO, Andrew Paterson said that the main issue is whether people are given adequate notice that they are being filmed or photographed. The ICO said the glasses and other wearable technology should be considered under the same rules as CCTV, risking a breach of the Data Protection Act. The ICO commented that if you are using a wearable technology for your own personal use then you are unlikely to be breaching the act, as this will fall under the exemption of collection of personal information for domestic purposes. However, any other use, particularly in a commercial context or in a public space must be carefully considered from data protection perspective.
Wearable technology may be making headlines now, but it is not new. Products such as fitness bands and smart watches have existed for a number of years. However, there is no denying this is fast growing market. Many new products are set to launch including fitness watches and kits from leading brands in the industry and there are even rumours of contact lenses aimed at diabetics which wirelessly transmit glucose levels in tears to a nearby device. With all these new devices, data collection will only grow, making Big Data increasingly relevant.
In the search for a useful product are privacy concerns being ignored? Perhaps – as a result, it is vital that developers and designers think of security early on in the process. Privacy has inevitably been at the heart of the global debate on wearable technology and we are already seeing this. For example, some bars in San Francisco have banned certain wearable technology devices as have UK cinemas over fears of increased piracy.
Ultimately, the consumers will decide whether they want these new technologies, but it is important that they are aware of the information they make available to others. Organisations must remain responsible to ensure they are protecting data in compliance with law. The ICO has encouraged organisations to remind themselves of the ICO CCTV Code of Practice, which is currently in the process of being updated, the consultation period for which closed just this week.