The We Are Watching You Act, proposed by Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano and Republican North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones, will keep corporations from using digital video recorders (DVRs) to collect and share your personal information.
If the bill passes, this will most immediately affect production of the next-generation Xbox, Xbox Kinect, Polygon reports.
The bill would require the consumer to provide prior consent before information is collected, and the operator of the technology would have to provide access to how the data is collected, said a press release on the House’s website.
Infrared cameras and microphones installed in the DVRs would be used to collect the surveillance information.
If not given a consumer’s permission to be filmed, the companies would be forced to offer another option that does not film their consumers but that is “otherwise identical in all aspects.”
If a consumer does allow the information to be collected, a bright red message that reads “WE ARE WATCHING YOU” must be flashed across the screen at all times while recording.
The House’s press release explains the tech companies’ interest in this technology: Essentially, they want to better and more quickly figure out what to sell you- a way to “super-target ads,” Capuano said.
“If someone is watching a favorite program while cleaning the kitchen, ads for products that will make appliances shine may show up. If a couple is talking about where to dine over the weekend, or enjoying a crunchy snack while watching the Stanley Cup finals, their television may serve up food suggestions. The patent application even goes so far as to suggest that if a couple is fighting, an advertisement associated with relationship counseling might be selected for them,” it said.
Jones and Capuano both offered quotes in their press release.
In light of the government’s “unfortunate history of secretly collecting private citizens’ information from technology providers, we must ensure that safeguards are in place to protect Americans’ rights,” Jones said.
Capuano stressed that though “this may sound preposterous,” it is “neither a joke nor an exaggeration,” and urged consumers to consider the impact this sort of information-sharing will have on their personal lives.
“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.”
The press release concluded with the message that this is a matter of awareness, and having a choice in the matter.
“At a minimum, consumers should have the option of saying no to being watched.”