A San Diego driver who was ticketed for wearing Google Glass while operating a motor vehicle on October 30 has had her case dismissed. While this is a positive step when it comes to what can and cannot be done while using this technology, it does raise the point that Google Glass poses legal questions which are very real and do require further investigation.
On the issue of wearing Google Glass while operating a motor vehicle, commenters have argued that mounted cell phones and GPS units are equally as distracting and if Google Glass was to be banned, then perhaps these devices should be banned as well. Just last August, Google unveiled a new video that demonstrated the use of one of the most powerful features of Google Glass, turn-by-turn directions. The video featured three different individuals who were able to successfully use Google Glass to navigate to their destination by use of car, bike and by walking. Even if the virtual display is not in use, a virtual assistant will whisper directions into the user’s ear which still makes it easier to navigate rather than having to refer to Google Maps on a smartphone.
On Twitter, other Glass Explorers celebrate the verdict of the recent court decision to dismiss the ticket that was issued for wearing Google Glass while driving. With enthusiasm, @dakini_3 writes:
“Our collective #FREECECILIA Campaign and the amazing energy of our #GlassExplorers Community has paid off!”
Glass supporters are clearly in favour of being able to wear the device while driving. However, Google Glass poses legal questions that are highly controversial as well. For instance, are all of the integrative features Google Glass provides inherently more distracting than a regular mounted GPS device?
On the discussion forum Reddit, users are already debating the topic. Reddit user Karunamon clarifies the verdict of the court case and why this one victory does not necessarily mean driving with Google Glass will be legal.
“The only reason she got off was because the cop was not able to prove that the device was on while she was driving, had it been on she would have lost her case.”
Another Reddit user, Mr12i raised the point that Google Glass has multiple purposes which could pose a problem.
“With Google Glass it will be almost impossible to prove that you used the device in a distracting manner.”
Will there be a way for law enforcement to differentiate between someone who was using Google Glass while driving to check their email and someone who was simply using it for GPS directions? Furthermore, will it even be possible for an officer to tell if a Google Glass user has the device switched on while it’s being worn? The verdict of this case suggests that the answer to that is question is “no.”
Of course, Google Glass poses legal questions above and beyond the ethics of simply whether they can be worn while behind the wheel. Almost from the moment Google Glass was unveiled, certain establishments began to ban the device. The owner of the 5 Point Café in Seattle was one of the first to put this rule into effect. Many casinos, strip clubs, classrooms, hospitals, movie theatres and banks have also informed the public that while they are welcome, their Google Glass is not.
By Jonathan Holowka