Feds Pulled Someone Out Of A Movie For Wearing Google Glass

It wasn't the FBI involved, as originally reported elsewhere, but turned out to be the Department of Homeland Security.



A report first appearing on The Gadgeteer sounded like a hoax: a reader told the site they'd been been approached by the Feds for wearing Google Glass in an Ohio movie theater (and had their property mishandled in the process). But, it looks like at least the basic facts check out: although the FBI didn't approach someone at the theater, as the person originally thought, the Department of Homeland Security apparently did. (Update: AMC commented. Looks like it was the DHS.)

An FBI spokesman in the bureau's Cincinnati office confirmed to Popular Science _that there was an incident at the Columbus theater over the weekend and that the Department of Homeland Security was "probably" _involved. (A spokesman for the DHS at first couldn't confirm the incident; a follow-up email hasn't been answered at time of writing.)

So, not a hoax. Which doesn't necessarily mean everything about the reader letter was 100 percent accurate, but if it is, whoo-boy, here we go:

Because I don’t want Glass to distract me during the movie, I turn them off (but since my prescription lenses are on the frame, I still wear them). About an hour into the movie (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), a guy comes near my seat, shoves a badge that had some sort of a shield on it, yanks the Google Glass off my face and says “follow me outside immediately”. It was quite embarrassing and outside of the theater there were about 5-10 cops and mall cops. Since I didn’t catch his name in the dark of the theater, I asked to see his badge again and I asked what was the problem and I asked for my Glass back. The response was “you see all these cops you know we are legit, we are with the ‘federal service’ and you have been caught illegally taping the movie”. I was surprised by this and as I was obviously just having a nice Saturday evening night out with my wife and not taping anything whether legally or illegally, I tried to explain that this is a misunderstanding. I tried to explain that he’s holding rather expensive hardware that costed me $1500 for Google Glass and over $600 for the prescription glasses. The response was that I was searched and more stuff was taken away from me (specifically my personal phone, my work phone – both of which were turned off, and my wallet). After an embarrassing 20-30 minutes outside the movie theater, me and my wife were conducted into two separate rooms in the “management” office of Easton Mall, where the guy with the badge introduced himself again and showed me a different ID. His partner introduced herself too and showed me a similar looking badge. I was by that time, too flustered to remember their names (as a matter of fact, now, over 30 hours later I am still shaking when recounting the facts).

An interview over at phandroid.com makes it sound like a private investigator with the Motion Picture Association of America may have been in the theater, something the FBI spokesman pointed out to me was another possibility.

But should the person have been wearing Google Glass in the theater? Well, that's up for debate: the lenses were prescription, apparently, but it's also a pretty blantant recording device that you attach directly to your face. Either way, the reader letter makes the officers come off as clueless about technology, which doesn't inspire much confidence, either.

We'll update if we hear back from DHS. You can read the full letter here.