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Moulton Introduce Bill to Protect Consumers from Curious Smart Devices

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA) partnered with Congressman John B. Curtis (R-UT) to introduce bipartisan legislation to put American consumers in the driver’s seat by giving them clearer knowledge about the technology they are purchasing. The Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act, introduced by Reps. Curtis (R-UT), Moulton (D-MA), and Bilirakis (R-FL), requires the creation of reasonable disclosure guidelines for products that have audio or visual recording components  that are not clearly obvious to a reasonable person, such as a kitchen or another household appliance. 

 “This legislation balances protecting American consumers with continuing to foster innovation, and I am extremely pleased with this final bipartisan product we introduced today,” said Curtis. “By working with a broad range of stakeholders, this legislation will allow regulatory flexibility without hamstringing the technological pioneers who are developing smart technologies, while ensuring consumers are aware of the capabilities of items they are putting in their homes.”

“We should be allowed to make informed decisions about the electronic eavesdroppers we invite into our homes. But we can’t do it if big tech hides microphones and cameras that are always listening in refrigerators, toasters, and other household gadgets,” said Moulton. “Let’s pass this bill so consumers know when big tech is listening in.”

 Background: The legislation is in response to reports about household devices listening to individuals’ conversations without their knowledge. While some manufacturers have taken steps to more clearly label their products with listening devices, this legislation would make this information more obvious to consumers without overly burdensome requirements on producers of these devices. 

Specifically, the bill requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to work alongside industry leaders to establish guidelines for properly disclosing the potential for their products to contain audio or visual recording capabilities. To ensure this does not become an overly burdensome labeling requirement, the legislation provides manufacturers the option of requesting customized guidance from the FTC that fits within their existing marketing or branding practices in addition to permitting these disclosures pre or post-sale of their products.

Text of the bill available [HERE].

The Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act builds on the next generation privacy laws pushed by Rep. Moulton, notably including the ALEXA Act he filed last year to limit data collected through similar in-home devices.

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan

Tom Duggan is president and publisher of The Valley Patriot Newspaper in North Andover, Massachusetts. He is an author, host of the Paying Attention TV/Radio Program, lectures on media bias and police issues, is a former Lawrence School Committeeman, former political director for Mass. Citizens Alliance, and a 1990 Police Survivor. You can email your comments to valleypatriot@aol.com.

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