Senator Proposes Requiring Labels on All Items With Microphone or Cameras: Little Chance of Becoming Law

Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the Protecting Privacy in our Homes Act (PPH), which would require that all items containing cameras or microphones be labeled as such when shipped.  Retailers and manufacturers note that most goods including such things tout them as a benefit, and therefore have the features prominently listed.

But not all.

Last year, owners of Nest home thermostats were unpleasantly surprised to find out the devices contained microphones that potentially could record conversations or be controlled by hackers.

Gardner said:

“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 embedded into it.  This legislation is about consumer information, consumer empowerment, and making sure we’re doing everything we can to protect consumer privacy.”

Still, the fact remains that when most people buy an item containing a microphone or camera, they intended to make the purchase.

The bigger issue would seem to be when people fall under surveillance and have no idea, such as entering a hotel, a friend’s residence, or public place.  A better, but much less practical, law might be one that requires all recording devices to be prominently labeled when in use.  But in today’s environment, it’s probably better to assume we’re being watched and recorded every minute of the day, even in our own homes.

Few lawmakers appear focused on privacy.  Govtrack.us gives the PPH a mere 3% chance of becoming a law.

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