Proposed California Anti-Eavesdropping bill to limit smart speaker data storage and annotation

Legislation under consideration in California would require companies to obtain written consent before storing or sharing data collected by smart speakers, and would curb the recently reported practice of employees listening to recordings from devices, Smart Cities Dive reports.

The Anti-Eavesdropping Act, which would also establish fines of up to $2,500 per device for violations, has cleared the Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee, and could soon be put to a vote. It was introduced in January by assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo).

Bloomberg reported recently that Amazon employees listen to conversations recorded by Alexa to annotate them as part of the virtual assistant’s ongoing training process.

Industry groups say the requirements of an IoT security bill currently before state congress make the Act unnecessary.

The barrier the Act could pose to smart city technology adoption is explicitly recognized in the bill, and Smart Cities Drive notes that Google was forced to announce an Independent Civic Data Trust to control data generated by its Sidewalk Labs test site in Toronto.

California has been beefing up its privacy protections, most notable with the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018, which significantly restricts biometric data sharing.

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