An Ohio man was apprehended last week by agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for wearing Google Glass, an Internet-enabled eyeglasses device, at an AMC movie theater in Columbus — the second incident in recent weeks that calls into question the legality of wearable technology in certain public scenarios.
Last week, a San Diego traffic court dismissed charges against a woman who was pulled over and cited for driving while wearing Google Glass. The court determined that the device wasn’t activated while she was driving.
In the Ohio case, a man wrote anonymously to the blog The Gadgeteer to describe an incident in which he and his wife were watching a movie at an AMC theater in Columbus on Saturday. He wrote that he had previously worn Google Glass to the theater on a few occasions, turning off the Internet but still wearing the device, since it was fitted with prescription lenses.
“About an hour into the movie (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says ‘follow me outside immediately,’” he wrote.
The man, who told the Columbus Dispatch newspaper that he didn’t want to be identified because he was interviewing for a new job, was detained by DHS agents for a few hours. They asked him where he worked, where he lived and why he had been recording the movie. The agents told him that he was not under arrest and that it was a “voluntary interview,” he wrote.
“I kept telling them that I wasn’t recording anything — my Glass was off, they insisted they saw it on,” the man wrote. “I told them there would be a light coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear ‘I will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass.’”
Eventually, the man said, the agents connected the Google Glass to a computer with a USB cord and examined all the personal images he had stored on the device, finding that he had not been recording the movie. He was given four free movie passes and sent on his way, which “just infuriated me,” he wrote.
Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of Homeland Security, released a statement to the Columbus Dispatch confirming that local ICE authorities “briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an electronic recording device to record a film.”
After confirming that the man hadn’t been using the recording function, Walls said, “no further action was taken.”
AMC told The Associated Press that it contacted authorities after spotting someone wearing a recording device and that the company “takes movie theft seriously.”
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