Smart Speaker Privacy Act introduced

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Mass. Representative Seth Moulton has introduced a bill to protect the privacy of Smart Speaker owners/users.  As reported in today’s Radio Online the bill called the Automatic Listening Exploitation Act “would create recourse for consumers when the manufacturers of smart speakers with personal assistants and smart doorbells collect private conversations and data in violation of their terms of agreements.” The proposed legislation follows privacy breaches by all three of the main developers of voice assistant platforms.

“Smart speakers and doorbells are great, but consumers should have a way to fight back when tech companies collect more data than Americans have agreed to give up,” said Moulton. “More broadly, Congress should give Americans a bigger say in the data that companies collect. It’s time for a next generation of digital privacy laws, and it can start by holding corporations to their own privacy commitments.”

The Act would allow the Federal Trade Commission to seek penalties when digital personal assistants and smart doorbells record private conversations of users who haven’t said the device’s wake word or phrase or activated the doorbell. The penalties would total up to $40,000 per infraction at the federal level. The bill also allows consumers to require the deletion of any recording or transcript of sound captured by a smart speaker or video or image captured by a video doorbell’s camera. The fine per incident would add up for companies that break the user agreements with their customers.

Recent statistics show continued steady growth for the devices throughout American households. Nielsen, for example reported ownership at 28% in it’s Q1 report.  Just last month, NPR & Edison Research found 51 million Americans own a smart speaker, about one in four Americans, and that 14 million of those Americans purchased a smart speaker in the last year. Half of users say they trust the manufacturers of the speakers to protect their data, and more than half are worried about their speakers being hacked.

Smart Speaker Growth has seen a steady rise in radio listening by middle & younger demos, thanks to the technology’s diversity connecting to radio station streams reversing a trend that saw radio consumption demos shifting older & older while diminishing in numbers.

While the proliferation of Smart Speakers continues into more & more homes providing companionship, answering questions, handling finances & operating home devices, the Smartest speaker in the Cherry household remains my wife Debra.

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Mike Cherry

Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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