09.26.19

Gardner Introduces Consumer Privacy Protection Bill

Washington, D.C. – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, introduced legislation this week to require that technology companies who manufacture Internet-connected devices disclose to consumers whether those devices contain any microphones or cameras. Americans should be fully aware if they are purchasing a product containing a microphone or a camera, particularly because these components may secretly record private conversations or collect data for resale to advertisers. The Protecting Privacy in our Homes Act requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to implement regulations requiring manufacturers to give consumers notice if Internet-connected devices contain cameras or microphones.

NOTE: Click here to view Gardner’s remarks.

 

“Consumers face a number of challenges when it comes to their privacy, but they shouldn’t have a challenge figuring out if a device they buy has a camera or microphone imbedded into it,” said Senator Gardner. “My legislation today will require the FTC to come up with a procedure that says to manufacturers of Internet of Things devices that if they build a product that contains a microphone or a camera, they simply have to disclose that to the consumer. That way, the consumer knows whether or not this device has a camera capable of capturing images or a microphone capable of listening and can start asking questions about where this information is going and how it is being shared. This legislation is about consumer information, consumer empowerment, and making sure we’re doing everything we can to protect consumer privacy.”

 

Earlier this year, it became public that numerous products contained microphones previously undisclosed to consumers. While some companies argued that these microphones were “never intended to be a secret,” this oversight and lack of transparency with consumers leaves Americans rightly questioning the privacy of their devices. This legislation would hold companies to account and subject them to penalties for not complying with these disclosure requirements while also making clear to American consumers the contents of their purchases.

 

Consumers are rightfully becoming concerned about being secretly recorded. It was revealed this year that some of the world’s largest airlines have cameras installed on the backs of passenger seats, even though airlines claim they have no intentions to use the cameras.

 

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.