- Russian security officials describe Facebook’s new ‘smart glasses’ as potential spying device.
- Sales and use of Facebook’s flagship wearable tech device can be banned in Russian Federation.
- The row is the latest in a series of showdowns between Russia and US social media company.
Russia’s state security agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB), issued a sharp statement, warning that Facebook’s new camera-equipped ‘smart glasses’ have ‘design features that mean it can be classified as a special tool intended for secretly obtaining information.’
According to Russian secret police, new Facebook’s flagship wearable tech device, designed in partnership with Ray-Ban, could be used for espionage.
FSB’s assessment could lead to a potential ban not only on Facebook’s ‘smart glasses’ sales in Russia, but can also criminalize its use in the country altogether.
Facebook describes the device as “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.” Known as ‘Ray-Ban Stories’, they allow users to start recording using just verbal commands, and retail for around $400 apiece.
While camera phones can be used to record people, their use is generally noticeable, the officials said. However, “with the glasses, there is a very small indicator light that comes on when recording is occurring. It has not been demonstrated… that comprehensive testing in the field was done by Facebook or Ray-Ban to ensure the indicator LED light is an effective means of giving notice.”
Facebook insists that new technology will always spark such concerns, and that it 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 contemplated.
The row is the latest in a series of showdowns between Russia and the American social media company. Just last month, Russia’s federal digital media regulator, Roskomnadzor, warned that Facebook could face millions of dollars in fines for failing to delete banned content that Russian censors say includes pornography, content glamorizing drug use, and purported extremist content.