It was supposed to be a fun night out at the movies, but a man from Hillard, Ohio, found himself being interrogated by federal officers on Saturday night because his Google Glass was deemed to potentially be a threat to Homeland Security. The 35-year old man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was detained and questioned for over an hour in an AMC cinema on suspicion of attempting to make an illegal recording of the movie he was watching.
He was attending a screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Agent with his wife when two federal agents entered the theater and asked him to come with them for questioning. Speaking in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, the Glass user said that he cooperated with the officials. He voluntarily allowed himself to be escorted by them to a downstairs office, where he was informed that there was a concern that his Google device was being used to make an illegal copy of the movie.
The man explained to the officers that the Glass device was not active during the screening, but he had continued wearing it as it was attached to his prescription lenses. The matter was eventually settled when he consented to connect his Google Glass to a computer via USB, and the Homeland Security officers were able to verify that he had not been recording the movie.
Speaking of the incident later, he admits that, “it’s stupid to have a device with a camera pointed at the screen.” Privacy advocates, however, have expressed concern over the heavy-handed tactics and asked if Google Glass is really such a threat to Homeland Security?
The Department of Homeland Security have not commented on the matter, but a statement from U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement confirmed that the incident had taken place as part of the DHS’s remit to combat counterfeiting and piracy.
Recently the Motion Picture Association of America released a statement praising Google Glass as a technological innovation and stating that they had seen “no proof” that the device posed a serious rick of copyright infringement. However, since this incident took place, the cinema chain AMC have issued their own statement to say that Google Glass will no longer be allowed in their theaters.
The incident is yet legal setback for the controversial technology which is not yet on sale to the general public. Earlier this month, a Californian woman was given a traffic citation for driving while wearing Glass. The ticket was later overturned on appeal as there was no evidence that the device was being used while she was driving, but the incident highlighted the ways in which lawmakers are struggling to keep up with technology.
Meanwhile, privacy advocates continue to worry about the implications of this new device, with groups such as Stop The Cyborgs raising concerns about how devices like Glass will impact privacy, democracy, and society as a whole. Google Glass is currently only available to a small group of beta testers known as “Explorers”; it remains to be seen how the technology will be used when it goes on sale to the public at large.
Meanwhile, the man who had his night at the movies spoiled by the feds has been offered four free tickets to a different screening to compensate him for the inconvenience. Hopefully, this time he’ll leave behind his Google Glass and any other technology that might be considered a threat to Homeland Security.
By Bernard O’Leary