Wearable computing is creating quite a stir, and its likely
introduction into the workplace is worth preparing for.
Glass is still in field trials and not generally available, but
already it has been banned from places that don't want people
to be able to compute, take photos, record, access the internet,
and generally be a walking computer, through a pair of glasses.
Privacy authorities in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand,
Mexico and Israel are concerned. They have written to Google to remind them of
the law on collecting, using and disclosing personal information,
and to chastise Google for not consulting with them on privacy and
data protection issues. Google's response emphasized user
consent and user control. As for others – the potential
subjects of recording, photography and video by Google Glass
– Google relies on "some signals" built into Glass
to "help people understand what Glass users are
More helpfully, Google suggests that some parties may in fact
take their own measures to address the use of Google Glass.
This is where employers come in. The Privacy
Commissioner of BC enforces privacy laws against organizations, not
against individuals who may be collecting personal information with
their Google Glass. So it is up to employers to decide if and
how Google Glass might be used in the course of work.
Here are some things to think about wearable computing
technology like Google Glass:
Can it be useful in your business?
Can it be harmful or wasteful?
Are there safety concerns?
What concerns might employees have about its use in the
What existing policies need to be adapted to deal with wearable
How do you control the pictures, video and other data recorded
or collected at work?
What happens to the data when it is in the hands of
Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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