Homeland Security interrogates Google Glass cinemagoer for more than an hour (updated)

22 Jan 2014

In another case of law-enforcement agencies worried about the uses of smartglasses, a man from Columbus, Ohio, was arrested at the cinema for alleged pirating of the film.

Only a week after charges against a Californian woman for driving while wearing Google Glass were dropped, the AMC theatre in Columbus asked for authorities to come to arrest the man (who wishes to remain anonymous) in the theatre wearing the glasses after the manager believed him to be recording with the new technology.

In his recounting of the events to The Gadgeteer website, the man claimed he was forcibly removed from his seat along with his wife, brought in to a back room by about a dozen agents and interrogated for more than an hour on everything from how long he has had the glasses, to details about his personal life.

The US$1,500 glasses have been issued to a lucky few thousand people as part of the Google Glass Explorer programme, which is aiming to beta test the glasses in everyday life before general release later this year.

However, these glasses also featured a US$600 pair of prescription lenses and the man claims he only wore the glasses with the device switched off to see the film.

Lots of questions

From the man’s recollection of events he claims: “I kept telling them that Glass has a USB port and not only did I allow them, I actually insist they connect to it and see that there was nothing but personal photos with my wife and my dog on it.

“I also insisted they look at my phone, too, and clear things out, but they wanted to talk first. They wanted to know who I am, where I live, where I work, how much I’m making, how many computers I have at home, why am I recording the movie, who am I going to give the recording to, why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain, ’cause they are not interested in me.”

The manager of the theatre has since issued a statement confirming the man’s arrest and apologises for the ordeal but insists they take potential film pirating seriously: “While we’re huge fans of technology and innovation, wearing a device that has the capability to record video is not appropriate at the movie theatre.”

The cinema has since given the man four free passes for his troubles.

This article has been amended on 23 January, 09:18 to reflect that it was found later to be the Department of Homeland Security who interrogated the man, not the FBI as initially stated.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic