Sens Cruz, Cantwell and Reps Curtis, Moulton Introduce Consumer Protection Bill on Recording Smart Devices
January 25, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), incoming Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today introduced the Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act. U.S. Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
This bill would require the FTC to create reasonable disclosure guidelines for products that have audio or visual recording components, such as refrigerators, washers, dryers and dishwashers that are not clearly obvious. Many consumers don’t realize the growing number of household devices and appliances include cameras and/or microphones that are capable of recording them and also include Wi-Fi capability to transmit data without their knowledge.
Sen. Cruz said:
“As the number of smart devices found in homes steadily climbs, consumers deserve greater transparency about how these devices work and how they impact privacy. Americans should know if the fridge is recording their families’ words and movements and they should know whether their virtual assistant is transmitting audio recordings of private family conversations. I am pleased to have introduced this legislation with Senator Cantwell to ensure the privacy and security of American households remains intact.”
Sen. Cantwell said:
“By 2026, it’s estimated that over 84 million households will have smart devices – providing connection and control over everything from your air conditioning to your air fryer. Yet, most consumers expect their refrigerators to keep the milk cold, not come equipped with a camera or microphone to record their personal and private family discussions. I’m happy to work with Senator Cruz on a bill that will ensure consumers know whether their household appliances are capable of invading their privacy.”
Rep. Curtis said:
“This common sense and bipartisan bill ensures consumers are aware of the recording capabilities of items they are putting in their homes, while also balancing flexibility for companies who are developing smart technologies. Privacy, especially within our homes, should be a choice for consumers, and I am glad that we have fostered a broad coalition of support for this legislation.”
Rep. Moulton said:
“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. Let’s pass this bill so consumers know when big tech is listening in.”