Smart Devices, Appliances with Hidden Microphones, Cameras Must Be Disclosed to Consumers

July 28, 2023

Cantwell bill to protect consumers’ privacy heads to President’s desk

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act, the Senate passed bipartisan consumer protection legislation co-sponsored by Chair Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to require pre-purchase disclosures for smart devices and appliances that have built-in microphones or cameras capable of recording or transmitting data. The Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act now heads to the President’s desk.

“By 2026, it’s estimated that more than 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,” Sen. Cantwell said. “With passage by the Senate, we are one step closer to ensuring that consumers know whether their household appliances are capable of invading their privacy.”

The Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create new 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 that include cameras and/or microphones that are capable of recording them and also include Wi-Fi capability to transmit data without their knowledge.