This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner.
The Senate was heavily lobbied by trade groups led by the Internet Association, groups that represented Microsoft, Google and Amazon (all of whom make creepy, surveillance “smart speakers” that sport networked, always-on microphones that the manufacturers claim are under user control), and senators amended the bill to render it effectively useless.
Under the stripped-down bill that passed the senate, Illinoisians who have been nonconsenually recorded by their devices can notify the state Attorney General, who then decides whether to investigate.
It’s at the Illinois House of Reps now, and is unlikely to have its original, strong language restored.
In the bill’s original form, users could file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office that could lead to penalties of up to $50,000. But after technology trade associations, led by the Internet Association objected, claimed that the state’s definition of a “digital device” was too broad, and that the Act would lead to “private litigation which can lead to frivolous class action litigation,” the bill was scaled back.
In its current, neutered form, the bill provides exclusive authority to the Attorney General to enforce the Act, which means regular citizens won’t be able to bring forward a case regarding tech giants recording them in their homes.