NYPD already experimenting with Google Glass, is there cause for concern?



With all the security and privacy concerns surrounding Google Glass, if there’s one government agency we thought would be all over the cybernetic eyewear, it’s law enforcement. Doesn’t come as much of a surprise for us to find out the NYPD has already begun experimenting with the wearable for “patrol purposes”. No, this isn’t a publicity stunt for the upcoming Robocop reboot; cops from the NYPD are actually being outfitted with Google Glass.

Apparently, the NYPD only have a few pairs at their disposal (Glass doesn’t come cheap, after all) with the most obvious use case scenario is for officers having the ability to record audio/video during investigations or interactions with suspects or the public. The NYPD envisions a future where they’d be able to walk into a room — like Robocop — pulling up information like arrest warrants about anyone in their field of view. Sounds pretty neat, but also a little scary.

Before anyone freaks out, let’s be clear: Google is not working with law enforcement. The NYPD was clear in how they acquired Google Glass, via the same Glass Explorer program that is open to agencies, doctors, firefighters or stay at home moms. Also worth noting is Google strictly prohibits facial recognition software under Glass’ terms of service, something we covered in a previous post detailing “creepy” new Glassware that pulls up your online identity by scanning your face. Of course, the NYPD would develop their own Glassware for pulling up police records and such, distributing it internally.

While civil liberty groups are, no doubt, already drafting up their complaints, we’re curious to hear your thoughts. Do Glass equipped cops make you feel a tad uncomfortable? Or is it possible Google’s wearable could provide added accountability for law enforcement officials, similar to the now standard vehicle mounted camera system already in place?

[Venture Beat | via NYPost]

Image credit: IBTimes | Gizmodo

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. As long as that video is available to the public (if there is a reason of course, not just willy nilly), it’s OK with me.

    1. You know what happens when it’s not freely available just willy nilly? That time you want it is the time the device “malfunctioned” or “wasn’t recording.”

      1. I hear you. Hopefully it can be done with kind of a black box or instant upload technique.

        This who concept was discussed pretty in depth in Rule 34 by Charles Stross

  2. Well, I guess it’s like a dash cam, but for your face.

    1. It’s almost surprising they don’t already have a “button cam” on their uniforms. And because of some of the incidents where cops have not upheld the law, it will probably be black box mandated.

  3. OMG can we stop all the big brother BS??

    1. Big brother is more google than the police at this point…

  4. im not fully against it as I can see it cutting down on those popos who abuse the power of the law at the same time hope it doesnt give them the power and access to profile more. u know rodney king us then upload it to youtube.

  5. I have no problem with this. I think law enforcement should have the technology and equipment to help them do their work. What do I care if a police officer can identify me from 100 feet and can pull up my SAT scores.

    1. Because when they declare all people with test scores below a certain point to be rounded up and put in camps much like the jews who had to wear a star of David on their clothes. Maybe then you’ll care. Think it can’t happen? History says you are wrong.

      1. Not really sure where you feel that comparison needs to be made.

        1. Because when a government knows everything about you, your freedom/life can be taken at whim. The comparison needs to be made because people tend to think of the Holocaust as something they read about in a book or something that happened centuries ago like the crusades. In reality, we’ve had multiple examples of democide in the last 75 years… It can and will happen.

          “In addition to the USSR, Mongolia, Eastern European regimes, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Grenada, Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, South Yemen, or 26 regimes in all. These communist governments and the communist guerrillas they supported in other countries account for about 66,000,000 of the 76,000,000 murdered since WWII by governments.


          1. and before anyone says these are all 3rd world countries, at the time of WWII Germany was regarded as a prosperous and advanced society. The Holocaust accounts for an estimated 11 million people, or 15% of all democide since WWII.

          2. So according to you, Glass will lead to genocide? And you make it sound like the government doesn’t know anything about you. They do, more than you know.
            (As a side point, I can relate to the Holocaust as a recent thing, I have family members who went through it etc)

          3. Where did I say I believe Glass will lead to genocide? (I said democide by the way, there is a difference) I was responding to a previous post where someone said something to the effect of, “I don’t care if the government searches me, I have nothing to hide, I’m doing nothing wrong.” I was pointing out that neither did the Jews until someone deemed it so.

            Regarding Glass, this article’s title asks, “is there cause for concern?” For a site that covers tech news and the android OS to even ask something like that, my answer would be yes. Glass will not lead to democide, but unless you’ve been living under a rock; or refuse to involve yourself, you have realized that there has definitely been an undercurrent of “change” away from the original intent of our founding documents towards something resembling a dictatorship or what ever -ism you want to prescribe.

            I know full well the extent of government surveillance. Glass could potentially give them that information while they look at you walking down the street. Get it?

    2. How do you feel about cops looking at random people on the street without any cause for suspicion and having facial recognition triggering an alert that the person has a warrant for a parking ticket or past conviction?

    3. How do you feel about a cop receiving an alert that some random person they looked at with no cause for suspicion has a felony conviction in their past or a current warrant for a parking violation?

  6. Makes me uncomfortable.

      1. Corrupt cops

        1. Are there specific abuses you imagine? If they would adopt this technology for regular use, are there policies you would like to see in place to regulate it?

          1. It’s just me feeling uncomfortable with them readily having information on me. Like for guys who have have bad rap sheet but they’re reformed. And say a cop sees him coming down the street and decides to mess with him. It would end up being like stop and frisk and New York more than likely.

            I haven’t really put thoughts into policies but I guess one could be warrants. Like if we’re technically advanced.. We could have it so it only allows certain info with a warrant.

    1. Remind me which one of those can run programs on them and not just record video?
      Oh right. None of them.

      1. Not about apps for the Police, recording time and quality of video is tops, now what about Google Glass, hmm?

        1. Youre wrong. Its entirely about apps. Every inch of NYC is already covered by NYPD cameras. The NYPD officers already wear cameras. This is about the NYPD creating programs for Google Glass like real time facial recognition programs that automatically bring up arrest warrants prior arrests etc. That is what is concerning here. Cameras in NYC are standard practice and old news.


          1. Wouldn’t this remove any kind of possible racial profiling. We are pulling you over because of your records, not your skin color.

    2. Swing and a miss. Another troll strikes out.

      1. Always a Trollship ready to throw the Troll Card when someone has a different opinions than theirs, MYOPIC Trolls abound!
        If you make sense and show hard proof of opposing content you are labeled a “troll”, sad, very, very, sad.

        1. If you can make a point without name calling and insults people will take you more seriously.

  7. If we can use it, they can use it.

  8. As a New Yorker I feel this is BS. These creatures have enough power, all we need is facial recognition in public spaces by city officials. I will pull out my camera, go pro, even an etch & sketch and record the NYPD recording me. Call it over reacting but our civil privacy is slowly getting chiseled away. Best of all my tax dollars are going to improper things like this.

    1. I think you missed the part where it said that “Google strictly prohibits facial recognition software under Glass’ terms of service” and you only have so much privacy to begin with. It’s not like this is going to be widespread by next month.

      1. They could still take pictures and record video then later analyze the footage.

    2. If people can use it why can’t police?

      1. The question is why would the police need it.

        1. Is this a serious question?

          1. Found out first hand
            “Already, the NYPD is looking into having cops wear body cameras to record stops.”


            Meaning they can record at any time or any place. Once again, our privacy will be violated for “security” purposes.

          2. What is the difference between this and banks recording you when you use their ATMs. Or camera’s behind cashiers when paying? Know that these recording can also be used against them.

          3. Those are all private establishments. A cop recording me for a simple traffic stop or a foot cop walking down the street just patrolling and recording is a bit uneasy.

          4. Okay but so what? What’s the big deal and difference between him recording you and him just looking at you? That he can go back and look at you again later? Explain to me WHY its such a huge concern to you that what you do IN PUBLIC is being recorded.

  9. The future is now …robot police

  10. Imagine the irony of getting ticketed for driving with Google Glass on by a cop wearing Glass

  11. The battery sucks so bad that they’ll ‘selectively’ record things when it benefits them. No thanks


    1. I just remembered that from the original Robocop movie! I watched the movie for the first time a few months ago. Wicked of you to comment by saying that, man, wicked!


      1. I’ll buy that for a dollar!

  13. As long as we can pulled up information on a cops history with glass then I’m okay with it.

  14. If we can’t use it, why shoud they?

  15. Its amazing how close we are getting to a Robocop Minority Report SkyNet future.

  16. glass has no agumented reality…so why is this useful…just to record them doing the wrong thing?..like giving me a ticket when i was going the same speed as everyone else the day after my birthday and told me he caught me doing a speed i know i wasnt…yeah sign me up for that

  17. I realize that people have concerns, but these cameras will protect citizens while simultaneously protecting cops from brutality claims. It is a win/win.

  18. As long as they don’t mind me wearing one pointing back at them, I’m fine with it.

    But as along as police departments abuse rights of citizens across this country when it comes to recording devices, I don’t expect that.

  19. Cops should be limited to this technology.

  20. I originally thought this would be a great application for glass but I agree we might be putting too much power in the hands of the police. The police in New York City have abused the rights of citizens so bad that they are now just as dangerous as the FBI, NSA or the CIA. Let’s hope they give up on this idea of using Google Glass so I can drink my giant soda in peace.

  21. Why is something that would improve police transparency and help catching criminals scary?
    Is Phandroid just a cover for your international drug smuggling operation?

  22. Its just a matter of time.

  23. It’s bad news until you learn the guy sitting next you is wanted for murder or even worse you’re kidding is sitting next to a pedophile.

  24. I personally think that this is a good thing for two reasons: 1) It increases transparency. Not only can it improve how law enforcement functions but it also can remove a lot of “he said, she said”. If law enforcement is required to wear something that’s always recording everything that they do there’s potential for better quality. 2) If it’s approved for law enforcement there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be approved for regular citizens for the similar functions (i.e. driving while wearing, recording police encounters, etc) and that sounds like a good thing to me.

    1. Thanks, as an Almost Human fan, I can imagine this being very helpful to cops. If you can instantaneously id a felon just by looking at them, that would would make you job a lot easier. I’m not naive, I know there certainly are downsides, but the up seems to make this a major win for those of us who obey the law…

  25. is there cause for concern? what a stupid tagline. fear mongering at its weakest.

  26. I also think that Facial Recognition for policing entities like local police and the FBI are perfectly okay as long as they’re only allowed to use criminal databases. Examine my face all you want, there’s no criminal record for them to pull up, therefor they get zero information about me but I certainly wouldn’t mind if them scanning the face of Mr. Repeat Rapist over there got him caught that much faster.

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