April 15 2019

Big Tech Lobbying Gutted a Bill That Would Ban Recording You Without Consent

An Illinois bill that sought to empower average people to file lawsuits against tech companies for recording them without their…

An Illinois bill that sought to empower average people to file lawsuits against tech companies for recording them without their knowledge via microphone-enabled devices was defanged this week after lobbying from trade associations representing Silicon Valley giants.

On Wednesday, the Illinois State Senate passed the Keep Internet Devices Safe Act, a bill that would ban manufacturers of devices that can record audio from doing so remotely without disclosing it to the customer.

But after lobbying from trade associations that represent the interests of Google, Amazon – makers of the microphone-enabled Google Home and Alexa smart speakers, respectively – and Microsoft, among other companies, the interests of big tech won out.

In its current, neutered form, the bill provides exclusive authority to the Attorney General to enforce the Act, which means regular citizens won’t be able to bring forward a case regarding tech giants recording them in their homes.

Just last week, a report from Bloomberg detailed how Amazon employs recorded thousands of people around the world to listen to commands spoken to its line of Echo speakers in order to improve its Alexa digital assistant, sometimes even after users opt out of having their data used in the program.

Amazon workers reportedly heard the terms people were searching for online, private conversations, and unsettling situations like a potential assault – all connected to the user’s Amazon ID number and personally identifying information like their name. (Read More)