SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Calif. Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), joined by members of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection, has authored AB 1116, a bill that would protect Californians from voice-recognition features that surreptitiously record private conversations in the home. The measure to keep television manufacturers and third-party providers from secretly tuning-in to private living-rooms across the state was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 7-0 vote.
The bill will require manufacturers to ensure their televisions voice-recognition feature cannot be enabled without the consumer’s knowledge or consent. AB 1116 also prohibits manufacturers from utilizing recordings for a use not intended by the consumer. As such, it preserves the ability to control a television with voice commands, or to make a Skype call using a television, but prohibits manufacturers from using recorded speech to generate targeted advertisements.
“Smart TVs and voice-recognition technologies are amazing, innovative tools that bring entertainment and ease into our lives, but giving up our right to privacy in the home because we want to utilize voice command features to change the channel is simply unacceptable,” said Gatto.
Much to the dismay of civil libertarians, reports have surfaced that televisions can record and transmit private conversations back to the manufacturer or a third-party without the knowledge of the user. While some manufacturers have inconspicuous warnings tucked away in their user manuals, consumers are largely unaware that what they say can be monitored, recorded, and transmitted to a third party, say, for targeted advertising. “It might be a little creepy if the family discussing financial issues finds themselves receiving targeted commercials from bankruptcy attorneys as they watch their favorite show,” said Gatto.
“AB 1116 will give the consumer the ability to individually determine the level of privacy protections inside their home,” Gatto said. “We’re not trying to stymie technological advances or fetter profit margins. The television industry has survived for over half a century without knowing what I said to my wife during an episode of The Bachelor.”
The measure now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, and the longest-serving current member of the State Assembly. He represents California’s 43rd Assembly District, which includes Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. www.asm.ca.gov/gatto