A Senate bill forces manufacturers to tell the public if their appliances – such as televisions and refrigerators – are spying on them with hidden microphones and cameras.
The bill, the Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act, targets so-called ‘smart devices’ that are capable of recording conversations and tracking people inside their own homes.
“American consumers should be aware when their appliances and everyday tech products have the capability to record them through microphones and cameras – let alone the ability to transmit through Wi-Fi,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) who co-introduced the bill with Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington.
“I’m proud to help author this bipartisan solution to help safeguard the privacy and security of American homes.”
The bill has already passed the US House and is set for a Senate vote.
“It’s estimated that by 2026, over 84 million households will have smart devices – providing connection and control over everything from your air conditioning to your air fryer,” Cantwell said. “Yet, most consumers expect their refrigerators to keep the milk cold, not record their most 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.”
Smart phones, laptops and other interactive devices are not covered by the bill because users are well aware of their recording abilities unlike, say, dishwashers.
In 2012, then-CIA Director David Petraeus praised the emergence of smart devices as “items of interest” the intelligence community can use to spy on anyone.
“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said. “The latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”