Google Glasses Quizzed Over Snooping by U.S. Lawmakers

U.S. lawmakers asked Google Inc. to explain how the company will protect the privacy of people viewed by those wearing the company’s Web-enabled eyeglasses.

Google’s Glass, a wearable computer in use by a limited number of testers, can take pictures and videos and share information via the Internet, according to a company blog post.

“Is it true that this product would be able to use facial recognition technology to unveil personal information about whomever?” Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, and seven other lawmakers asked in a letter today to Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page.

The lawmakers asked whether bystanders could opt out of information gathering, and whether Google would collect data about users.

Google, operator of the world’s largest Internet search engine, has been grappling with scrutiny by government officials around the world over how it handles private information.

Google is “thinking very carefully about how we design Glass because new technology always raises new issues,” Samantha Smith, Google’s Washington spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. The company will take comments from people using the glasses in trial runs, she said.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, in March agreed to pay $7 million to settle an investigation by states over the collection of data from unsecured wireless networks by vehicles taking images for the company’s Street View product. The Federal Communications Commission fined Google $25,000 last year for not cooperating with a probe into the Street View data collection.

In 2011, Google agreed to 20 years of independent privacy audits to settle claims with the Federal Trade Commission that it deceived users and violated its own privacy policies with the Buzz social network.

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