Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

Google Glass at the movies gets man interrogated

A man wearing Google Glass in an Ohio movie theater says the FBI pulled him out and accused him of recording the movie with his device.

4 min read
What kind of world will it be? Google

There are enemies of the state, and then there are enemies of Jack Ryan.

A Google Glass wearer has told an extraordinary story of going to his local movie theater in Ohio and allegedly being accosted by the FBI for wearing his device.

In an impassioned and slightly shiver-making e-mail to The Gadgeteer, the man, who only gave his initials as T.U., said that he went to the AMC theater at the Easton Mall in Columbus in order to see the new Jack Ryan movie, "Shadow Recruit."

Google Glass wearers, beware. Federal Bureau of Investigations

He was, he said, wearing Google Glass. His wife accompanied him, Glass-less.

What allegedly transpired was macabre. He wrote that it was not the first time he'd worn Glass to that theater.

However, an hour into the movie: "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.'"

Outside, he said, was a group of policemen. T.U. says that the man who dragged him out explained he was from the "federal service."

What was the Glass-wearer's alleged crime? He was, he said, being accused of recording the movie on his device.

He wrote:

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).

T.U. insisted that he wasn't recording anything. The Glass was off. He wasn't believed.

I kept telling them that I wasn't recording anything -- my Glass was off, they insisted they saw it on. I told them there would be a light coming out the little screen if Glass was on, and I could show them that, but they insisted that I cannot touch my Glass for the fear 'I will erase the evidence against me that was on Glass'

T.U. said that he was happy for his Google Glass to be hooked up to a laptop to prove there was nothing recorded on it.

He wrote:

The FBI guy finally connected my Glass to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going though them one by one (although they are dated and it was obvious there was nothing on my Glass that was from the time period they accused me of recording). Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong.

Finally, T.U. said that the FBI left and a man from the "Movie Association" entered and told him that they'd had trouble with people recording at that theater. He says he was offered free movie passes to see the Jack Ryan movie again.

In the comments section of her piece, the Gadgeteer's Julie Strietelmeier insisted: "I talked to the author and know his friend who has frequented The Gadgeteer for years. I believe them and the story."

An AMC spokesman has now confirmed the essence of T.U.'s story:

Movie theft is something we take very seriously, and our theater managers contact the Motion Picture Association of America anytime it's suspected that someone may be illegally recording content on screen. 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. At AMC Easton 30 last weekend, a guest was questioned for possible movie theft after he was identified wearing a recording device during a film. The presence of this recording device prompted an investigation by the MPAA, which was on site. The MPAA then contacted Homeland Security, which oversees movie theft. The investigation determined the guest was not recording content.

So you see, wearing Google Glass at the movies can, indeed, attract the attention of Homeland Security. It's also banned at AMC movie theaters, by the sound of it.

This is merely the latest incident in which Google Glass has caused consternation. Some bars and restaurants have banned wearers. Only last week, software developer Cecilia Abadie won her caseagainst a ticket for driving while Glassing. Just as T.U. claimed, she said hers was turned off.

T.U. seemed merely relieved that the ordeal -- which he said lasted more than three hours -- was over. Still, he said he wished someone had told him that wearing Glass at the movie theater wasn't allowed.

As for the "federal service," he wasn't impressed with their alleged lack of understanding about Google Glass. He wrote: "I guess if they deal with petty criminals every day, everybody starts looking like a petty criminal."

Google Glass is becoming anything but petty.

Updated 11:59 a.m. PT with comment from AMC Theatres.