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Facebook Privacy

The Data Protection Commission in Ireland, Facebook's lead privacy regulator in Europe, has asked Facebook to demonstrate than an LED indicator light on its pair of "smart" Ray-Ban sunglasses -- which lights up when the user is taking a video -- is an effective way of putting other people on notice that they are being recorded by the wearer. TechCrunch reports: Italy's privacy watchdog, the Garante, already raised concerns about Facebook's smart glasses -- but Ireland has an outsized role as a regulator for the tech giant owing to where the company's regional base is located. The first Facebook Ray-Ban-branded specs went on sale earlier this month â" looking mostly like a standard pair of sunglasses but containing two 5 MP cameras mounted on the front that enable the user to take video of whatever they're looking at and upload it to a new Facebook app called View. (The sunglasses also contain in-frame speakers so the user can listen to music and take phone calls.) [...] The specs also include a front-mounted LED light which is supposed to switch on to indicate when a video is being recorded. However European regulators are concerned that what the DPC describes as a "very small" indicator is an inadequate mechanism for alerting people to the risk they are being recorded. Facebook has not demonstrated it conducted comprehensive field testing of the device with a view to assessing the privacy risk it may pose, it added.

"While it is accepted that many devices including smart phones can record third party individuals, it is generally the case that the camera or the phone is visible as the device by which recording is happening, thereby putting those captured in the recordings on notice. With the glasses, there is a very small indicator light that comes on when recording is occurring. It has not been demonstrated to the DPC and Garante that comprehensive testing in the field was done by Facebook or Ray-Ban to ensure the indicator LED light is an effective means of giving notice," the DPC wrote. Facebook's lead EU data protection regulator goes on to say it is calling on the tech giant to "confirm and demonstrate that the LED indicator light is effective for its purpose and to run an information campaign to alert the public as to how this new consumer product may give rise to less obvious recording of their images."