Two congressman have written bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing telecommunications companies from monitoring the private activities of their customers, Time magazine reports
Democrat Rep. Mike Capuano of Massachusetts and Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina co-authored the "We Are Watching You Act," H.R. 2356
According to a statement released by Capuano
, the legislation is "in response to reports that national telecommunications companies are exploring technology . . . that would record the personal activities of consumers as they watch television from the privacy of their own homes."
They say they have put together this privacy measure in light of the recent news "about the access that the government has to the phone numbers we call, the emails we send and the websites we visit."
The technology they are referring to would use infrared cameras and microphones that would come in DVRs and cable boxes. A patent has already been filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by Verizon and says that the technology would allow them to detect human activities including "ambient action . . . of eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, humming, cleaning," to name a few.
The statement says that even though "this DVR technology is in its conceptual stages, it is important that Congress establish clear boundaries before it becomes a reality."
The bill requires that telecommunication companies acquire consent from the consumer before Verizon or any other company would be allowed to install a DVR with such monitoring capabilities. The companies would be also be required provide information on how the data is collected and who would have access to it.
"When the recording device is in use, the words WE ARE WATCHING YOU would appear, large enough to be readable from a distance, for as long as the device is recording the viewing data," the statement says.
"At a minimum, consumers should have the option of saying no."
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