It will be months before Google’s much-vaunted Glass wearable becomes a retail reality, but there is already quite a bit of controversy surrounding its potential use or misuse. Glass has already been banned by a dive bar in Seattle because its wearers can click pictures and shoot videos more easily than otherwise.
Following that ban, a West Virginia lawmaker, Gary G. Howell is leading the charge for a law in the US state that would ban the use of Google Glass by drivers. A Republican sitting on the West Virginia Legislature, Howell says the use of Glass by those behind the wheel is akin to sending text messages or picking up the phone to answer a call while driving.
The ban by the bar, a popular hangout for Amazon employees who work nearby, made headlines around the world and was the first pre-emptive strike on the potential privacy issues that Glass may cause.
If the bill is passed, those caught using Glass while driving could face a $100 (approx Rs 5,500) fine for the first offense, with each additional offense penalised by another $100. So a habitual offender would be charged $500 for the fifth violation of the rule.
In his defence, Howell makes it clear that he is not against the device per se, but is worried about the possible misuse of the heads-up display. "I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law. It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and unskilled drivers. We [have] heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension." Howell said.
In a separate interview with CNET, Howell made it point to say that this legislation is in line with his political beliefs. "I am a libertarian, and government has no business protecting us from ourselves, but it does have a duty to make sure I don't injure or kill someone else," he explained. "When I choose to use the Google Glass and cross the centre-line of the road because I'm reading a text, then my actions affect someone else." Howell also says that if his bill doesn't become law, it could act as a precursor for other bills across the US.
The proposed bill would add head-mounted displays to the list of electronic devices currently prohibited from use while driving in the state. The proposed bill is H.B. 3057 and can be viewed in its entirety here.