Irish DPC threatens probe over Facebook’s Ray-Ban smart glasses

The Irish data regulator is concerned about the potential for users to engage in covert filming

Ireland’s data protection regulator is investigating the recently launched Facebook Stories augmented reality (AR) glasses over concerns that users can record people without their knowledge.

Facebook’s smart glasses, developed in collaboration with Ray-Ban, feature a pair of 5MP cameras to capture photos and film, as well as a microphone and speakers so users can listen to media or use the voice assistant. The device pairs with a smartphone app branded Facebook View.

To indicate to others that film is being captured, each pair of glasses features a subtle LED indicator located above the lens that flashes on. This can be dimmed, but not disabled, in the interests of privacy. Recording film is also limited to 30 seconds. 

Both the Italian data protection regulator, the Garante, and the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), however, are anxious that neither Facebook nor Ray-Ban examined whether this subtle LED indicator is enough to sufficiently warn those nearby. Concerns also remain that the light can simply be hidden with a small piece of tape.

“The Irish DPC and the Italian Data Protection Regulator, the Garante, are both concerned about the means by which those captured in the videos and photos can receive notice they are being recorded,” the regulator said in a statement.

Related Resource

X-Force Threat Intelligence Index

Top security threats and recommendations for resilience

Transparent cube against a black background - whitepaper from IBMFree download

“While it is accepted that many devices including [smartphones] can record third party individuals, it is generally the case that the camera or the phone is visible as the device by which recording is happening, thereby putting those captured in the recordings on notice.”

The Irish DPC has challenged Facebook to confirm the LED indicator is an effective means of protecting the privacy of other users. 

Ireland’s regulator is nominated as the lead investigator for cross-border complaints under GDPR’s one-stop-shop principle for companies headquartered in Ireland, including Facebook and a host of other tech firms. 

The DPC and Garante are also calling on the firm to run a public information campaign to alert the public as to how this product may give rise to the covert recording of their images. 

“From the start, we designed Ray-Ban Stories with privacy in mind, adding numerous built-in features to provide control and peace of mind to both device owners and bystanders,” Facebook said in a blog post marking the launch of these glasses.

“More information on these features, as well as our new guidelines for responsible use, can be found on the Ray-Ban Stories privacy microsite.” 

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Most Popular

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

Apple MacBook Pro 15in vs Dell XPS 15: Clash of the titans

11 Oct 2021
Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Network & Internet

HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

15 Oct 2021