Facebook View sunglasses questioned by the Irish and Italian authorities, regarding whether they effectively notify data subjects that they are being recorded.
A new product by Facebook in collaboration with Ray Ban, is now coming under question by European data protection authorities. The product, called “Facebook View” was introduced to the general public with a short promotional video of Mark Zuckerberg speaking about these innovative glasses, which can take photos and record video. In the video, Mr. Zuckerberg made an attempt to appease possible qualms from the public on the privacy of this technology, citing that an LED light goes on, on the frame of these sunglasses, to notify those around when the glasses are recording. However this feature is now being called into question by the Irish and Italian regulators: the Irish DPC, and Garante respectively. Their main question: is a light on the frame enough to significantly notify people that they are being recorded?
Facebook View sunglasses are seen as much less conspicuous than a camera or cell phone, in communicating that recording is in progress.
It is important that when people are being recorded that they have a sense that this is happening. When someone pulls out a camera or a cell phone for example, the general assumption is that recording is in progress or a photo is being taken. People are not assuming automatically that they are being recorded when they see someone wearing a pair of Ray Bans. Most people are also not looking for a light on a pair of glasses under regular circumstances. The Irish and Italian authorities, according to this joint statement recently issued, do not believe that a pair of sunglasses can adequately give notice that recording is in progress.
The relevant authorities call on Facebook to demonstrate the effectiveness of the LED light to inform people that recording is in progress, as well as run an information campaign.
The Irish DPC and Garante claim that it has not been demonstrated to them that comprehensive testing was done by Facebook, to ensure that an LED light would effectively communicate to people that they are being recorded. Facebook is now being called to demonstrate the effectiveness of the LED light to inform people that they are being recorded. In addition, the authorities are asking Facebook to run an information campaign to adequately alert the public on how this new product may result in much less obvious recording of their images.
“Facebook should also explain whether there are any plans to combine the information recorded using the Facebook View sunglasses with Facebook existing databases. This scenario seems likely considering that Facebook core product consist on users sharing photos and videos on the social network, where they can tag their friends and contacts” points out Cristina Contero Almagro, Partner in Aphaia.