Less than a week after Facebook finally debuted its highly anticipated Ray-Ban Stories glasses, Australia’s privacy watchdog is already investigating it. Facebook? Having privacy concerns? Groundbreaking.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk is investigating whether the Ray-Ban Stories could be used to spy on people “without their awareness or consent”, leading the watchdog to question whether the product should be sold in Australia at all.
However, it’s worth noting that Facebook issued a statement regarding privacy concerns at launch, saying “we need to proactively educate people on how to use Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses safely and responsibly, both for their own protection and that of others around them”.
It’s hardly shocking that Facebook’s recent hardware launch has rustled some feathers with the watchdog considering its the first of what will likely be many of these sorts of smart glasses to be released in the coming years. And considering Facebook doesn’t exactly have the greatest track record when it comes to privacy concerns, it’s not hard to see why the watchdog has jumped on the case early.
The Privacy Commissioner’s office has reportedly questioned whether Facebook has adequately “conducted a privacy impact assessment” before launching the product last week.
“I am concerned about products that have the potential to covertly collect personal and sensitive information about Australians without their awareness or consent,” Ms Falk told the Daily Telegraph.
“While we have become accustomed to people using smartphones to take images in public places, photographing or filming people through a camera located in sunglasses can more easily occur without being obvious.
“It’s not clear what steps Facebook has taken to mitigate the impact on Australians’ privacy.”
The Privacy Commissioner is also working with international bodies to investigate the Ray-Ban Stories’ potential impact on privacy.
The news comes after a similar investigation has been launched in Italy, with the country’s data protection agency Garante asking for more clarification on the product.
At the time of publishing, the Ray-Ban Stories are still available for purchase in Australia, with a recommended retail price of $449.