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Google Glass rules tighten: no porn or facial recognition

Google Glass has tightened their rules far more stringently than their Android developer rules, and lawmakers are taking a look at where Glass should and should not be allowed and what penalties will be for using them in restricted areas.

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Google Glass culture unfolding as rules tighten

Google Glass will hit the market soon, but before the project becomes a mainstream reality, Google is taking a careful approach at what they allow and what they do not allow to be featured in their app store, and they’re surprising many by tightening the rules. Why is it a surprise? Apple positioned themselves as the wholesome, family friendly app store, mocking Google Android for having porn apps (which they still do), so many assumed Glass would be an unrestricted environment, much like Android is.

Not so. You’ve heard of no Glass by the pool (and no running, no diving, and so on), but have you heard of no Glass at the casinos? No porn on Glass? No gambling on Glass? No facial recognition on glass? No voice printing on Glass? The Glass Platform Developer Policies are strict because the technology has a strong likelihood of being invasive.

No facial recognition, no voice printing on Google Glass

The Google Glass team posted on G+, “We’ve been listening closely to you, and many have expressed both interest and concern around the possibilities of facial recognition in Glass. As Google has said for several years, we won’t add facial recognition features to our products without having strong privacy protections in place. With that in mind, we won’t be approving any facial recognition Glassware at this time.”

It is a quandary, however, as there is no mention of people being able to opt in (as in the case of the Glass app developed for doctors to pull up patient files based on facial recognition).

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It’s not just facial recognition, however, as the policies restrict developers from using “the camera or microphone to cross-reference and immediately present personal information identifying anyone other than the user, including use cases such as facial recognition and voice print.”

What is more curious is that the policy continues, “Applications that do this will not be approved at this time.” Note that Google doesn’t close the door permanently, as it does say “at this time.”

No porn on Google Glass

Sorry grown ups, no grown up stuff for you on Google Glass, you’ll have to stick to your Android for that, as Google has very publicly banned pornographic materials.

“We don’t allow Glassware content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts or sexually explicit material,” the company outlines, and asserts that there are very serious penalties for any app featuring child pornography.

The issue of porn came up with a company released an app which had over 10,000 visitors and over a dozen Glass test users already signing up, and while they say they followed developer policies during creation of the app, they intend on pivoting to follow the rules so they can remain in the Glass app store.

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No Glass in casinos

It’s not just Google Glass that has rules for its own use, lawmakers are taking a look at where Glass should and should not be allowed, and New Jersey along with Pennsylvania are both planning to prohibit the devices to prevent card counting or other cheating methods not yet evident. We suspect Google Glass could eventually read and record other players’ moves and habits and heck, even read heartbeats to look for a true tell. Casinos don’t like that. It’s not just about that single player having an unfair advantage, the theory is that making cheating easy would discourage players from visiting anymore and hurt local economies.

Further, several large casinos in Las Vegas have already banned the wearing of Google Glass devices inside the casinos. The goal for the industry is to make it illegal and an arrestable offense to wear Google Glass inside their venues.

Casinos aren’t alone

Casinos won’t be the last scenario that forbids Google Glass – we suspect that next up are all levels of educational institutions, government buildings, and maybe even retail dressing rooms, who knows? While many augmented reality options available on Glass are already offered on smartphones, it is nearly impossible for people to detect improprieties while using Glass as opposed to a user having to hold their phone up for all to see what they’re doing.

As a final thought, if the NSA is tracking all keystrokes, it wouldn’t be a tremendous leap to consider that all visual and audio data being processed on a Google Glass device could be stored and tracked as well, so in the currently heated environment surrounding privacy, Google Glass could play a larger role in the long term as people grapple with what they think is okay and what is not okay for Google, the government, or the public to know about their device use.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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