Erie County Lawmaker working on Internet Devices Privacy Act

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County Lawmaker Joe Lorigo calls it the “Internet Devices Privacy Act” which is supposed to give consumers control over when companies listen in and record your voice commands from turning on the lights to starting your dishwasher.

In fact, some of those microphones are live even after you have turned the device off. 

There could be as many as 120-million smart speakers in use across the country, each one with a microphone listening for a “trigger” word or phrase to carry out your command.

Manufacturers and marketers of the devices have acknowledged those microphones may be on all the time or the device could be triggered accidentally, with technical employees listening and recording.

Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo says his proposal would require your express consent to record your voice, and inform you in writing what the device is listening for and what would trigger a third party recording.

“So right now, they are always listening to everything you are saying, and it is waiting for that ‘trigger word’. That’s fine, that is how it is, but the problem is, they are recording all of that background noise before the trigger word is said.  That should not happen anymore. If they want to turn the microphone on–they can’t record what you are saying before you say that trigger word or they should not record it at all–at least not without your express consent,” Lorigo said.

For its part, Amazon has said employees are listening and recording to better understand what is being said to improve voice recognition, and they do not know the identity of who they are listening to. 

Lorigo patterned his privacy measure after legislation introduced by state lawmakers in Illinois which drew heavy flack from Amazon and Google.

Lorigo says enforcing the law would be a challenge.. possibly depending primarily on complaints from consumers

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