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September 25, 2020

Smart Glasses: Regulatory Trends

By GlobalData Thematic Research

Smart glasses are internet-connected devices, and therefore, pose a threat to privacy to both wearers and those around them. As a result, regulators across Europe and the US are encouraging vendors to adopt privacy by design principles in the product development phase and privacy as a service during the lifecycle of the products.

Regulatory Trends

Listed below are the key regulatory trends impacting the smart glasses industry, as identified by GlobalData.

Data privacy

Growing awareness of the need to protect user data has led to the introduction of data privacy regulations such as the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Japan’s Act on the Protection of Personal Information (APPI), and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Adopting an extraterritorial approach, GDPR and APPI have forced smart glasses vendors to process data generated within the EU and Japan, respectively. The regulations also mandate companies to have transparent privacy policies that stipulate the purpose and use of user-generated data. Companies must also equip users with features to request, access, correct, and suspend their data from privacy centres.

Privacy by design

The ability of smart glasses to collect audio and visual data can infringe on the privacy of users and those nearby, often without their knowledge. Consequently, regulators worldwide, especially in the EU, are necessitating the adoption of privacy by design for smart glasses vendors.

Google, in compliance with the EU’s GDPR, has introduced audio and visual notifications that are triggered when Google Glass begins recording audio or video. Having incorporated similar features, smart glasses vendors also permit users to manually turn off the devices’ microphone and camera to prevent privacy breaches.

Smart glasses vendors will attract greater scrutiny from regulators in the coming years, as their devices gain popularity and more data-generating capabilities are added to them.

This is an edited extract from the Smart Glasses – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.