Google bans Glass at shareholder meeting, infuriates Consumer Watchdog

Google held an annual meeting of shareholders on Thursday and imposed stringent restrictions such as prohibiting all those attending wearing its own Google Glass headset device, according to a new report.

CNBC reported on Friday that Google's instructions for the meeting banned: "Cameras, recording devices, and other electronic devices, such as smart phones, will not be permitted at the meeting. Photography is prohibited at the meeting." 

Google Glass is a wearable computing device with a head-mounted display that enables users to snap photos and record video, among other things - probably why Google banned it from Thursday's meeting in California. However, the company's rules did not specifically restrict the technology by name. 

Glass has spurred privacy concerns from many organisations like Consumer Watchdog. Clearly angered by Google's rules at the 2013 shareholder meeting, John M. Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog, released a scathing press release that lambasted the Mountain View-based company. 

“Google has unleashed one of the most privacy invasive devices ever,” wrote Simpson. “Google Glass aids and abets people who want to invade our privacy by videoing or photographing us surreptitiously, but when it comes to their own privacy Google executives jealously guard it.”

Simpson, who has notably been vocal in his opposition toward Glass, called the restriction "hypocritical" and mentioned that Google has a “long record of making everyone else’s information public, but insisting on secrecy about its operations”.

Read: Google: Glass won't have facial recognition powers for now

Glass, which has experienced mixed reactions from worried consumers over its photo and video-capturing capabilities, created another hotbed of debate earlier this week in regards to whether developers could use facial recognition in Glass apps. 

Privacy advocates were concerned that users wearing Google Glass could walk into a bar, for instance, and immediately spot who was in the room with a facial recognition check, while others were worried about the implications it might have in a wider social context.

Google has responded to concerns about facial recognition and said it learnt from the community and will "continue to learn more as we update the software and evolve our policies in the weeks and months ahead". Google Glass is said to be being release in early 2014.



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