Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Internet Association Lobbying Group Defangs Illinois State Bill to Ban Unauthorized Microphone Use

Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica:

On April 10, the Illinois State Senate passed the “Keep Internet Devices Safe Act,” a bill that would ban Internet device manufacturers from collecting audio from Internet-connected devices without disclosing it to consumers. But the bill was substantially neutered after a fierce lobbying effort by an industry association backed by Amazon and Google.


The original bill would have made collection of audio by an Internet device “an unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.” That wording would have allowed device owners to complain to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, or any Illinois state’s attorney, and could result in fines of up to $50,000 per case — on top of any other compensatory damages for privacy violations.

The Internet Association — members of which include Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook — complained, in part, that the bill would allow for penalties of accidental microphone activation. Bugs happen, of course, but why shouldn’t there be liability for unauthorized collection of personal data, even when it’s a mistake? If anything, it’s pretty astonishing that huge breaches of privacy due to negligence are just sort of waived away.