The data protection authority of Italy has asked Facebook to clarify if its Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses comply with privacy laws. Facebook recently launched the glasses, that allows users to listen to music, take calls, or capture photos and short videos. It also allows users to share content across Facebook’s offerings using a companion app.
Reference to the Irish Data Protection Commissioner
The GDPR has a one-stop-shop mechanism. As such, businesses operating in more than one European Union market would need to deal with only one ‘lead’ data protection authority [Article 56]. Facebook has its headquarters in Ireland, so the Irish Data Protection Authority would be the lead authority here.
Hence, the Italian Data Protection Authority, Garante, has referred the issue to the Irish data protection commissioner and urged it to ask Facebook for clarifications.
Garante said it wanted to be informed on measures Facebook has put in place to protect the privacy of people occasionally filmed, in particular children. It also wants information regarding data anonymization features and the features of the voice assistant available on the smart glasses.
Facebook’s Response to Queries
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement:
“We know people have questions about new technologies, so before the launch of Ray-Ban Stories we engaged with the Irish DPC to share how we’ve built privacy into the product design and functionality of the glasses to give both device owners and people around them peace of mind…We’ll answer questions from Garante through the Irish DPC and we look forward to our continued collaboration with regulators in Europe.”
Update 20/09/2021 (05:17 p.m):
The Irish Data Protection Commission has issued a statement on the issue. It says that a camera or phone gives notice to any third party being recorded, by the fact that it is visible. However, on the glasses, there is a “very small” LED indicator that indicates recording is happening.
It says that Facebook has not demonstrated to both the Irish and Italian DPCs if it undertook comprehensive testing in the field to ensure that the LED light sufficiently gives notice to third parties being recorded.
It is now calling on Facebook to confirm and demonstrate that the LED light is effective with regard to giving sufficient notice. As such, it will also order Facebook 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.