Big Tech Companies Attack Illinois Bill Prohibiting Remote Access To Users’ Mics

Chris White | Energy Reporter

Google and Amazon are opposing an Illinois bill that would effectively prohibit big tech companies from remotely accessing users’ microphones.

The Internet Association and other trade organizations that represent the three major tech companies — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — criticized SB 1719 in a press statement Wednesday, arguing that the bill is vague and unnecessary given that federal law already prevents such action. The bill prevents third-party actors from gaining remote access to people’s devices.

“Provides that no private entity may turn on or enable, cause to be turned on or enabled, or otherwise use a digital device’s microphone to listen for or collect information, including spoken words or other audible or inaudible sounds, unless a user first agrees to a written policy meeting specified criteria,” the bill notes.

The so-called Keep Internet Devices Safe Act is vague in its description, according to the Internet Association’s statement. “The definition of ‘user’ does not make it clear who should receive notice. Microphones cannot distinguish voices and thus cannot and thus cannot determine who is the user and who is the owner of the device.” the statement reads.

The Internet Association has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. Google and Facebook have been criticized in recent years for their supposedly haphazard handling of private information. (RELATED: Google Dings AI Ethics Panel After Employees Throw A Fit Over Conservative Member) 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing “examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young

Recent reports have discussed how Facebook reportedly spent years forging various partnership agreements with digital media to gobble up troves of users’ private data even when customers are not perusing the company’s platform. The Silicon Valley giant began forming partnerships during the company’s early years with tech businesses, including online retailers, entertainment websites, along with automakers and media organizations, reports show.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought to weave the company’s services into virtually every website across the network, inoculating it from competition, The New York Times noted in December 2018. Facebook also reportedly used contact lists from partners like Spotify and Netflix to gain deeper insight into people’s relationships — one partner was Huawei, a Chinese-based company American officials believe is a security threat because of its connections to China.

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