So it has come to this: this week, Google posted some Dos and Don'ts for its wearable tech, Google Glass. The etiquette guidelines, and the fact that Google felt the need to make them explicit, highlight the ongoing debate around privacy and their technology.
The Dos start off simply enough: have fun with it, lock your device, be an active member of the pilot program. They also include the advice to "Ask for permission."
Ask for permission. Standing alone in the corner of a room staring at people while recording them through Glass is not going to win you any friends (see Don’ts #4). The Glass camera function is no different from a cell phone so behave as you would with your phone and ask permission before taking photos or videos of others.
That's a pretty good tip. It's admittedly not a rule that even people with cameraphones strictly adhere to, but with those it's pretty easy to tell when someone might be taking a picture. (Hint: they'll probably be holding their phone and pointing it at you or in your general direction.)
Google explained the privacy stuff further later in the guide, in the aforementioned Don'ts #4.
[Don't] Be creepy or rude (aka, a “Glasshole”). Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy. Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way. In places where cell phone cameras aren’t allowed, the same rules will apply to Glass. If you’re asked to turn your phone off, turn Glass off as well. Breaking the rules or being rude will not get businesses excited about Glass and will ruin it for other Explorers.
The important thing here (aside from, you know, not being a creep) is that Google is equating the Glass's camera with a phone's; the same rules apply. Glass evangelists hoping that the technology confers on them greater permission to record whatever is in eyesight will have no such luck getting the company to back them up on that claim.
Really though, the creepiness rules are mostly about Google protecting their almighty brand. If Glass users are overwhelmingly jerks, regular consumers will be averse to the tech when it hits the mass market. Don't be a Glasshole—not because it affects others around you, but because it affects Google's ability to market its product.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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