By Sayyedeh Parastoo Vakili

Some may love or hate Snapchat.  But many users love that they can share impromptu pictures and videos with groups of people without worrying about them remaining online forever.  According to Business Insider, a report from 2016 showed that over 158 million people use Snapchat daily, open their app 18 times a day, and spend between 25 to 30 minutes in the app every day.  Snapchat quickly became very popular and captured the imagination of millions of millennials.  Watching your friends slide show stories lasting several minutes can be somewhat amusing.  As we know, social media evolves at a far quicker rate than most brands.  We have already seen new technology such as Amazon Echo, the Defibberator service for Google Home, and now the public is being introduced to Snapchat Spectacles.

Snapchat Spectacles allows users capture life stories or snaps as it happens on their sunglasses.  This is basically having snapchat on your face – wearing a camera all the time.  They are extremely light weight and can easily connect Spectacles to your phone device.  Proponents of Spectacles argue that it has great use experiences for its customers, such as making experimental videos, capturing face-to-face spontaneous interactions with people, and making memories as you travel to different places without having to hold a camera.  Another interesting feature about Spectacles is that once you record your 10 second footage you can view it in either landscape or portrait mode and it will be centered in your device.  

Although Spectacles may seem fascinating and even though the recording light allows the audience to know that they are being recorded, there are still some privacy and security issues.  First, the white light around the recording lens is only visible to individuals that are close enough to see the flashing light.  Second, the recording takes only 10 seconds and is immediately sent to your Snapchat account on your phone, making it even more difficult for the audience to realize what had just happened.  Most importantly, this newly invented technology makes it much easier to record personal information and invade individual’s privacy.  There is a risk of people misusing this device and having the consequence of inappropriate, private, and embarrassing videos to go viral.  Proponents argue that Spectacles are built in bright colors with big cameras on each side, but nowadays with so many bright and colorful sunglasses, it may be difficult for people to distinguish the difference between the two.  

Furthermore, Snapchat is selling Spectacles only for $130 dollars, which makes it easier for many people to purchase this item.  According to expert Matthew Ferrante, CEO of Aurora Security and CSO of Security Optics, due to its low cost, there is a high chance of undermining privacy and security.  Ferrante says: “people are putting their own digital fingerprints out there.”  In other words, to maintain better security, such technology should be expensive so that not everyone would be able to afford it.  These media contents can be permanent and harmful since they are recorded without the consent of the individual, unless the parties who are recording and being recorded know one another and have impliedly consented.  It would not be fair to say that Spectacles are unacceptable and bad technology, rather this is just a manifestation of the risks that may cause damaging affect to some individuals.  Thus, individuals should be cautious of their surroundings in public and be mindful that there are individuals who may misuse this device.


Bio: Sayyedeh Parastoo Vakili is a Book Review Editor and Staff Member of the Journal of High Technology Law. She is currently a 3L at Suffolk University Law School. She holds a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology, and a M.S. in Crime and Justice Studies (MSCJS) both from Suffolk University.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of JHTL or Suffolk University Law School.


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