Informing Consumers About Smart Devices Act

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 27, 2023
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of H.R. 538, the Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act.

The Internet of Things revolution has ushered in a new age of convenience and efficiency for the American public. Smart thermostats can save consumers money by tracking and reporting home energy use and making recommendations about adjusting temperatures to meet consumers' needs. Smart refrigerators can provide recipe suggestions based on the contents of the refrigerator. Smart ovens can scan food to automatically optimize the cooking process. Smart coffee makers can brew a fresh pot of coffee just as you are getting out of bed.

The American consumer is embracing these technologies. Today, the average American home has 11 Internet of Things, or IOT, devices. Over a quarter of consumers have at least one home automation device. These are technologies that allow consumers to interconnect and control their various IOT devices from one platform.

Congress should also embrace these technologies, but we must ensure that the IOT revolution does not come at the expense of consumers' privacy. Troubling reports have uncovered that some IOT devices may record images or audio without the user's awareness. Researchers have revealed that some IOT devices may accidentally record users as many as 19 times a day, collecting as much as 43 seconds of audio each time. Robot vacuums have taken intimate images of unsuspecting consumers which eventually ended up online.

Mr. Speaker, we must take action to combat these threats to people's right to privacy. That is why I am proud to support the Informing Consumers about Smart Devices Act. This legislation will require manufacturers of IOT devices to alert consumers that a device includes a camera or microphone if a consumer would not reasonably expect the device to contain such features.

Last Congress, this bill was unanimously reported out of the Energy and Commerce Committee and passed the House with broad bipartisan support.

I thank Representative Seth Moulton for his leadership on this issue, and I encourage my colleagues to vote in favor of this bill.

While this bill addresses significant privacy concerns, it is also important that I note that we have to recommit to adopting a comprehensive privacy framework that protects all Americans and provides heightened protections for our children nationwide.

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act, which I authored last Congress with Chairwoman Rodgers, would do just that. It would ensure that consumers, wherever they reside in this country, will have meaningful control over their personal information and that children will have heightened privacy protections. It also provides clear and consistent rules of the road on privacy and data security to innovators, entrepreneurs, and small tech companies.

I appreciate that we are advancing today's legislation on a bipartisan basis. I know this legislation is important, but I also look forward to working with Chairwoman Rodgers to pass the American Data Privacy and Protection Act on a bipartisan basis in this Congress, as well.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I have no additional speakers.

Mr. Speaker, I will just close by saying I do think this is an important bill for consumers, and I thank the sponsors.