We knew it was going to happen at some point. Whenever a new or advanced technology difuses into society, new legal issues start to pop up. And the answers aren't always clear. Now there merges the first reports of a new legal problem that comes as an unintended consequence from one of the new people using technology that is soon to be infiltrating our lives - the wearable computer. Otherwise known as Google Glass.
What's the issue?
We just heard the first account in California of a woman getting a moving violation ticket citation for having a "viewable monitor" visible while driving. In other words, she was wearing her Google Glass.
If you haven't heard, Google Glass is the newest wave of computer technology - all of the computing power of a smartphone or iPad, but made into a wearable form that you can wear just like glasses. If it sounds a little "out there", just think of Google Glass as 2014's iPad. Ten years ago, would you have predicted the computer to have leaped not just from desktops to laptops, but from bulky stationary tower machines to slim convenient tablets? Now, everyone takes the iPad or Galaxy for granted. Maybe Google Glass is just the next best thing.
When you first hear about such a thing, you have to question what happens when you are driving with something like that on? Wouldn't that be distracting? And those are exactly the kind of questions that our best legal minds are going to have to wrestle with and come to a resolution on. Because there are going to be a lot more people doing the same thing in a very short period of time.
The lady says she intends to fight the ticket, and she may well win. Her exact ticket was for speeding (we forgot to mention that) but in the cop's view, the secondary violation equated Google Glass to a viewable monitor that contributes to distracted driving. California law prohibits driving within view of a television broadcast or video signal, but exempts certain things like vehicle displays and GPS units. So it's not going to be as clearcut an issue as, say, a texting and driving citation. The lady's defense is going to involve arguing that she didn't have the Glass turned on. Other states are already moving in with proposed legislation to define the legal issue in ways that certainly will not make Google happy - laws that make Glass equal to cell phones (and therefore illegal to wear while driving). So it will be interesting to see what the legal resolution is on this case. When we hear about it, we will keep you posted.
This post was published on February 17, 2014 and was updated on October 17, 2014.