×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

House Bill Would Restrict Camera-Enabled ‘Spy’ Set-Tops

Legislation would force video services to display message about data collection and provide option for camera-free box

Citing privacy concerns, a U.S. representative has introduced legislation that would force video providers to display the message “We are watching you” if they use devices with cameras that monitor the activity of viewers.

The “We Are Watching You Act of 2013” bill also would require video providers to provide a camera-free set-top box and service if at a customer’s request. Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) and co-sponsor Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced the bill, House Resolution 2356, on Thursday.

The bill would potentially affect Microsoft’s Xbox videogame console (pictured above), which uses the Kinect camera attachment to provide voice and gesture controls of games and entertainment. In a blog post last week, Microsoft said Xbox users have control over all their personal data and can turn the Kinect features off at any time.

“At Microsoft, we prioritize your privacy,” the company said in the post. “We understand that your personal data and privacy are important. Xbox One and Kinect will provide tools to put you in control of your data.”

Such a law also would have implications for Intel Media’s forthcoming Internet-delivered TV service, which the company has said will include a set-top with a camera and facial-recognition technology to deliver personalized content and potentially advertising. Intel execs have said users would be able to disable the camera features.

Intel does not see the bill as an issue that will affect its service. “We take the privacy of our users very seriously,” Intel Media rep Jon Carvill said. “Our philosophy is to leave all controls in the hands of the user for our platform including what information they choose to share.”

In a statement, Capuano called camera-enabled set-tops “an incredible invasion of privacy.” “These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads,” he said.

Capuano said he was spurred to introduce the bill after learning about Verizon Communications’ application for a patent covering the use of a camera-enabled set-top to serve targeted ads. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office rejected the telco’s patent application in March, but the issue remains relevant, according to the congressman. Verizon declined to comment.

Capuano also was motivated by recent disclosures about the U.S. government’s widespread monitoring of phone calls and Internet activity under the National Security Agency’s PRISM program.

“Think about what you do in the privacy of your own home and then think about how you would feel sharing that information with your cable company, their advertisers and your government,” he said.

As written, the bill would require a video provider to display the “We are watching you” message for the duration of the time information is being collected, as well as provide a description of what data is being collected and how it will be used.

More Digital

  • Clevver-Logo

    Hearst Magazines Buys Clevver's Pop-Culture YouTube Channels After Defy's Demise

    Hearst Magazines has snapped up Clevver, a network of female-skewing lifestyle and pop-culture news YouTube channels that had been owned by now-defunct Defy Media. Clevver was left homeless after Defy’s sudden shutdown in November; its principals said at the time they were looking for a new home. Hearst Magazines sees a digital fit with Clevver’s [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Rhett-Link-Good-Mythical-Morning

    Rhett & Link's Mythical Entertainment in Talks to Acquire Smosh (EXCLUSIVE)

    Smosh, the YouTube comedy brand left stranded after parent company Defy Media went belly-up, may be about to get a new business partner. Mythical Entertainment, the entertainment company founded by top YouTube comedy duo Rhett & Link, has been in talks about acquiring the Smosh brand, sources told Variety. Multiple potential buyers came forward to [...]

  • Pokemon Go

    Proposed 'Pokémon Go' Lawsuit Settlement May Remove Poké Stops, Gyms

    A proposed settlement in the class action lawsuit against “Pokémon Go” developer Niantic could remove or change a number of Poké Stops and Gyms in the popular augmented reality game. The proposed settlement was filed in a California court on Thursday and applies to anyone in the U.S. who owns or leases property within 100 meters [...]

  • Skyline of Doha at night with

    Qatar's beIN Rallies Support From U.S. Companies Against Pirate Broadcaster beoutQ

    Qatari powerhouse beIN Media Group has rallied support from American sports and entertainment entities, including Discovery and Fox, behind its request that the U.S. government place Saudi Arabia on its watch list of top intellectual property offenders. The Doha-based broadcaster, a state-owned spinoff of Al Jazeera news network, accuses the Saudi government of harboring pirate broadcaster [...]

  • Carlos SlimMexican tycoon Carlos Slim participates

    Carlos Slim’s America Movil Looks to Invest $8.5 Billion in Latin America This Year

    América Móvil general director Daniel Hajj has announced that Carlos Slim’s Mexican conglomerate plans to invest $8.5 billion in Latin American in 2019, focusing primarily on fiber-optic infrastructure and updated mobile technologies such as 4.5G and 5gG. In a conference call with analysts, following the company’s recap of fourth quarter results, Hajj laid out the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content