Runestad seeks greater privacy protections

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad has introduced legislation that would increase protections against electronic eavesdropping.

Senate Bill 688 would prohibit new methods of accessing conversations from a remote location.

“Our eavesdropping laws are outdated and refer to older forms of communications, such as listening in on telephone conversations and bugging people’s homes and places of business,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “But today, routine electronic purchases like smart TVs and other home products have the potential to record our daily conversations in the interest of convenience and greater customer service.

“Consumers are slowly becoming aware of the danger of private conversations being recorded by their electronic purchases. The law needs to catch up to this changing technological environment.”

The FBI field office in Portland, Oregon released a consumer advisory cautioning shoppers to examine smart TVs for features such as microphones and cameras and not to leave factory default settings on their electronics when they bring them home.

“We should not be afraid that our smart TVs and other technologies are actively recording our day-to-day lives,” Runestad said. “Updating the law will protect against these type of privacy invasions — especially in the comfort of our own homes.”

SB 668 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.