Google Glass Wearer Detained by Federal Agents at Movie Theater

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on January 21, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Another day, another Google Glass legal run-in. This time, an Ohio man who wore Google Glass into a movie theater was in a dramatic plotline of his own when he was detained and questioned by special agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

This legal snafu sounds way more exciting than the Google Glass-related distracted driving ticket that was recently dismissed.

What the heck happened?

Feds Focused on Potential Piracy

An Ohio man wore Google Glass into an AMC theater, apparently because they're fitted with his prescription lenses, a blogger at The Gadgeteer reports.

But about an hour into the film, a special agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations showed up, grabbed the Glass, and instructed the Glass wearer to follow him immediately, according to the blog.

Inside a management office room at the mall where the theater is located, the agent and his partner told the man that "he was not under arrest" and that "this was a voluntary interview," but that if he "chose not to cooperate bad things may happen to [him]."

During the interview, the agent accused the Google Glass wearer of illegally recording the film and of being connected to a movie piracy ring. The Glass wearer proceeded to answer a slew of questions related to his personal and professional life.

Four hours later, the Glass wearer was cleared. He just had pictures of his wife and dog on the gadget. Nice work, feds!

Police Questioning

You can almost always refuse to answer police questions, although the legal results from doing so can vary significantly. In this case, the issue was whether the Google Glass wearer could have walked away from the special agents.

Because the man was explicitly told that he was not under arrest and that the interview was voluntary, he was likely not in police custody and could have walked away from the agents and end the questioning at any time.

Of course, the agents' veiled threat that non-cooperation could lead to consequences was actually true. The Glass wearer could have ignored or refused the agents' request to submit to questioning -- but the agents may have then chosen to arrest the gadget owner, which would certainly have ramped up the seriousness of the situation.

Somewhat ironically, the Google Glass wearer was at the movie theater to watch "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." By now, he's probably had his fill of seeing special agents in action.

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