Is Facebook’s new smart glasses a spying tool from the US government to spy on Americans? One country thinks so and wants to ban its sale
Last month we wrote about Facebook after the social giant unveiled its first smart glasses that let users take photos and record videos with voice commands. The glasses, which were developed in partnership with Ray-Ban maker EssilorLuxottica, enable wearers to listen to music, let users take calls, or capture photos and short videos and share them across Facebook’s services using a companion app.
Dubbed “Ray-Ban Stories,” on the surface the glasses look like regular glasses anyone could use to chat with friends and take pictures. But foreign spying experts are now warning that the new smart glasses “have design features that mean they can be classified as a special tool intended for secretly obtaining information.”
In an article published today, RT reported that Russia’s top domestic security agency, the FSB, has aired a series of concerns about Facebook’s flagship wearable tech device, saying the camera-equipped glasses designed in partnership with Ray-Ban could be used for espionage. In a statement published on Monday, FSB officials said it opens the door to a potential ban not only on their sales but on their use in the country.
It’s ironic the warning is coming from Russia considering what Facebook said during the product launch. Below is how Facebook described the smart glasses on its website.
“Smart glasses that give you an authentic way to capture photos and video, share your adventures, and listen to music or take phone calls — so you can stay present with friends, family, and the world around you.”
Meanwhile, Russia is not the only country to cite privacy concerns about Facebook smart glasses. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission also asked whether an LED indicator light mounted on the frame is sufficient to warn unsuspecting people that they are being recorded.
It’s worth noting that the new Facebook glasses aren’t AR glasses like those rumored to be in development at Apple. The question still remains, do the components of these glasses sufficient enough to spy on people. According to Facebook, smart glasses consist of the following:
- Dual 5Mp cameras
- 5Mp image capture & 1184 x 1184@30fps video
- 2x micro speakers
- 3x microphones
- Facebook Assistant
- Touch controls
- Wi-Fi 802.11 ac
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Compatible with iOS and Android
Facebook insists that new technology will always spark such concerns and that the company is committed to working with regulators to iron out any potential issues. However, with the glasses having already been launched and made available for sale, it is unclear whether any changes to their design would be discussed.
Below is a video of Facebook’s Ray-Ban Stories Smart Glasses in action.