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Man wears Google Glass to cinema, gets interrogated by US Homeland Security

Google Glass seems to be popping up all over the place, but there's somewhere the high-tech headpiece probably won't be met with open arms — the cinema.

An Ohio man found this out the hard way after allegedly being interrogated by the federal agents for rocking the $1,500 (£900) wearable computing device at his local theatre over the weekend. Relaying the story to tech blog The Gadgeteer, the man, who identified himself only by his initials T.U., said he was an hour into the new Jack Ryan flick, Shadow Recruit when the trouble began.

"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,'" the jilted moviegoer wrote. Outside, there were about five to 10 federal officers and "mall cops," who accused him of using the headset to illegally tape the movie, which the man denied.

The Glass-wearer said he recently purchased $600 (£365) prescription lenses for his headset, and has been wearing it ever since, but switched it off during the movie so he wouldn't get distracted. The man and his non-Glass-wearing wife were taken into two separate rooms, and he was questioned by two officers.

"What followed was over an hour of the 'feds' telling me I am not under arrest, and that this is a 'voluntary interview,' but if I choose not to cooperate bad things may happen to me," he said. "I kept telling them that Glass has a USB port and not only did I allow them, I actually insist they connect to it and see that there was nothing but personal photos with my wife and my dog on it."

The man insisted that he was not recording anything, and his Glass was off. After a while, the officer connected the headset to a computer, downloaded all his personal photos and went through them one by one before concluding he was innocent. Finally, someone from the "Movie Association" came into the room and gave T.L. two free movie passes for his trouble.

"I asked if they thought my Google Glass was such a big piracy machine, why didn't they ask me not to wear them in the theater?" he wrote. "I would have probably sat five or six rows closer to the screen (as I didn't have any other pair of prescription glasses with me) and none of this would have happened. All he said was AMC called him, and he called the FBI and 'here are two more passes for my troubles.'"

The man later clarified that it was Department of Homeland Security officers, not the FBI, who questioned him.

In an April 2013 press release, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center within DHS teamed up with the MPAA and the National Association of Theatre Owners for a new trailer aimed at educating cinema goers about the effects of movie piracy. By November, TorrentFreak reported that the MPAA updated its cinema guidelines, which included a section on eyeglasses with cameras.

"Movie thieves are very ingenious when it comes to concealing cameras," according to the guidelines. "It may be as simple as placing a coat or hat over the camera, or as innovative as a specially designed concealment device (e.g., a small camera built into eyeglass frames or a camera built into the lid of a beverage container)."

The incident in Ohio, meanwhile, is just the latest example of pushback against Google Glass. Last week, in a landmark ruling, a San Diego Glass Explorer ticketed in October for wearing the headset behind the wheel was found not guilty.