Scalise sponsors bill demanding more transparency from smart device makers

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U.S. House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) introduced legislation this week to give Americans more control over smart devices in their homes by requiring greater transparency from manufacturers about the information their devices collect.

“Consumers have the right to know if their conversations are being recorded in the privacy of their homes. They shouldn’t have to worry about their smart devices logging and collecting sensitive personal information without their consent,” the Scalise rep said. “Big Tech needs to be more transparent with the American public about the capabilities of their devices.”

Rep. Scalise sponsored the EAVESDROP (Earning Approval of Voiced External Sound Databasing Retained on People, HR 8543) law, which would require notice regarding the collection of ambient noise by certain Internet-connected devices, limit the disclosure and retention of collected information through such noise, and require a mechanism by which such collection can be disabled and re-enabled, according to the summary of the congressional bill.

“I’m proud today to introduce the EAVESDROP Act to give consumers more control over their privacy, especially as more and more electronic devices listen in on their conversations,” Rep. Scalise said Wednesday.

Specifically, HR 8543 would require manufacturers of smart devices to disclose whether information is collected about an individual through ambient noise recording and, if so, what types of information was collected, how long that information is retained, whether such information is sold to third parties, and whether ambient noise recording can be disabled, according to an invoice summary provided by Scalise representative staff.

Additionally, the bill would limit the amount of information collected for purposes that are only necessary for the operation of the device and provide consumers with tools to understand the capabilities of smart devices, the summary states.

Heritage Action for America, Americans for Tax Reform and the R Street Institute endorsed the measure, which was referred to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee for review.

“We particularly appreciate that it strikes a delicate balance between empowering consumers and avoiding regulations that stifle innovation,” Chris Riley, resident senior fellow at the R Street Institute, said of the project. law.

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