Is YOUR refrigerator spying on you? Senate committee approves bill forcing manufacturers to TELL buyers if there are cameras and microphones inside washing machines or fridges
The United States is close to bringing in laws clamping down on ‘spy devices’ in the home, amid concerns that your refrigerator, dishwasher or washing machine could be recording your movements.
Wi-Fi enabled gadgets have been on sale for several years, with high-end products promoting features such as alerting you when a certain product is low in your fridge, or warning you when cleaner products inside the device run low.
Yet two senators – Ted Cruz, a Republican for Texas, and Maria Cantwell, a Democrat representing Washington state – have introduced a bill to force companies to declare far more prominently that their products contain cameras.
‘American consumers should be aware when their appliances and everyday tech products have the capability to record them through microphones and cameras – let alone the ability to transmit through Wi-Fi,’ said Cruz.
‘I’m proud to help author this bipartisan solution to help safeguard the privacy and security of American homes.’
The LG LNXS30996D – part of the InstaView ThinQ range – is Wi-Fi enabled, and contains cameras. It retails for $6,999
Ted Cruz on Wednesday oversaw the approval of his bill, Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act
Cantwell agreed, saying many Americans did not realize how easy it was to be monitored via your kitchen and household goods.
‘It’s estimated that by 2026, over 84 million households will have smart devices – providing connection and control over everything from your air conditioning to your air fryer,’ she said.
‘Yet, most consumers expect their refrigerators to keep the milk cold, not record their most personal and private family discussions.
‘I’m happy to work with Senator Cruz on a bill that will ensure consumers know whether their household appliances are capable of invading their privacy.’
On Wednesday, the bill – Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act – was passed by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
It was passed by the House last month.
The bill now requires a full Senate vote and then signing into law by President Joe Biden.
Maria Cantwell, a Democrat senator representing Washington, co-sponsored the bill with Cruz
The Bosch 800 Series Dishwasher, on sale for $1,299, is connected to the internet and features ‘remote monitoring and control’
This washing machine – the TurboWash 360°, retailing for $998 at Home Depot – boasts that: ‘Built-in intelligence takes out the guesswork, AI technology selects optimal wash motions and settings – washer can auto-select a compatible drying cycle’. It is run by an app, which ‘controls laundry remotely’, while offering ‘proactive customer care’ which ‘sends maintenance tips & alerts’
Cruz and Cantwell’s bill would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to force the designers of internet-connected devices to let consumers know whether recording hardware is installed into smart devices.
It applies to smart appliances such as televisions, dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators – but not mobile phones, laptops, or other devices for which the owner reasonably expects to see recording devices.
The bill comes amid rising awareness of how our devices are monitoring our every move, and frequently selling our data.