Movie theaters announce “zero tolerance” policy for wearable tech

The Motion Picture Association of America, along with theater owners, has issued new guidelines aimed squarely at “wearable tech” devices such as Google Glass, watches and other gadgets that could record a movie.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the groups described a new “anti-theft policy” that will require moviegoers to turn off and put away any wearable device. If they refuse, they will be asked to leave.

The statement adds that theater managers will alert law enforcement if they “have indications that illegal recording activity is taking place.”

[We] recognize the strong consumer interest in smart phones and wearable “intelligent” devices. As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown.

The new policy comes months after an incident in which an Ohio man took his wife to see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and was dragged out of the theater by federal agents for wearing Google Glass.

While the movie industry has long fretted about customers using cameras, smartphones and other devices to record and sell pirated movie copies, it will be interesting to see if they will be able to enforce the new “wearables” guidelines. While devices like Google Glass are easy to spot, it will be harder for theaters to detect items like smartwatches and bracelets.

The situation is likely to be more complicated still as a growing number of wearables are used to monitor health — meaning theaters may put themselves in the awkward position of evicting customers for wearing a medical device.