Smile! You are being watched by your cable TV

cable-boxCheryl K. Chumley reports for The Washington Times, June 17, 2013, the cable TV companies have acquired a new technology that enables them to peer directly into television watchers’ homes and monitor viewing habits and reactions to product advertisements.

The technology would come via infrared cameras and microphones embedded in digital video recorders (DVRs) or cable boxes, which will enable the cable companies to watch and analyze viewers’ reaction (what they do and say) to televised ads. The cable companies then use the data collected to target specific advertisements to the particular household.

Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced a bill, the We Are Watching You Act, to prohibit the technology on boxes and collection of information without consumer permission. The bill would also require companies that do use the data to show “we are watching you” messages on the screen and to explain just what kinds of information is being captured and for what reasons.

The two Congressmen explain in a press release that “A patent application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office by Verizon notes the technology could detect a range of viewer activities. According to the patent application, the set-top device will be able to distinguish ‘ambient action … of eating, exercising, laughing, reading, sleeping, talking, humming, cleaning’ and more.”

Congressman Capuano stated: “This may sound preposterous but it is neither a joke nor an exaggeration. These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy. Given what we have recently learned about the access that the government has to the phone numbers we call, the emails we send and the websites we visit, it is important for consumers to decide for themselves whether they want this technology. 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.”

For his part, Congressman Jones stated: “Allowing this type of technology to be installed in the homes of individuals without their consent would be an egregious invasion of privacy. When the government has an unfortunate history of secretly collecting private citizens’ information from technology providers, we must ensure that safeguards are in place to protect Americans’ rights.”

Current law is silent on these devices. The We Are Watching You Act will require both an opt-in for consumers and an on-screen warning whenever the device is recording information about consumers.

~Eowyn

Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds and a regular contributor to The D.C. Clothesline.

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25 Responses to Smile! You are being watched by your cable TV

  1. Scott says:

    I just called ATT and cancelled my cable. And those of you saying just cover it up or tape please!
    WHAT A BUNCH OF F’ING SHEEP! This country is in huge trouble! No 2 ways about it! What have they put in the water and food and shots that is making the once great American people so docile? IT MAKES ME SO SICK AND ANGRY! A COUNTRY OF WUSSIES! SHEEP!

  2. DC says:

    The fact that some of you are stating ‘just cover it with tape’ amazes me! Are you so lethargic both physically and mentally that you’re unwilling to stand up and say no?! Start paying attention to whats really happening instead of idly sitting there watching w/o worry because believe me there will be a day when duct tape can’t save the world anymore!

  3. kay p says:

    Duck tape please.

  4. Me says:

    They can watch me sleeping through their adds or leaving the room..

  5. How hypocritical. I lived without cable for many years before I moved in w/ fiance. Its not a necessity and it really is nice and quiet and just a little bit more private without it. And wow! MOre $$ in my own pocket at the end of the month…

  6. Ric Jarvis says:

    Simple,drape a black cloth over the front !

  7. well got duct tape? problem solved

  8. Brian Murphy says:

    surely this is a gross invasion of family privacy; Permission should be sought first. The infra red rays could be damaging to the customers eyes and health

  9. Well, it’ll be hard for them to distinguish between me naked and laughing, and me just naked and changing the channel, while laughing naked. Hope they can learn to distinguish the difference.

  10. This old grandma promises to always sit in the nude…ROFL

  11. Ian Carnel says:

    The problem , of course, is that the “Service providers”…Verizon Et Al, Will just do the same thing as the software companies “Take it or leave it ….if you want the cable TV services, you will be watched” and not offer a privacy version of their agreements or hardware.

  12. LMAO…Cable companies want to get your reactions to ads????? Yea right..it is big brother watching you and listening to everything you say and do…

  13. Hi Tech Grandma says:

    Cancel your cable! How HYPOCRITICAL that these two congressmen are introducing yet ANOTHER bill to stop this invasion of privacy when the government is massively spying on the people of this country in every form there is and some ways we don’t even know about!!!!!! I am so sick of all of this!

  14. ihatelibs says:

    No Cable here, never has been

    • Kenya says:

      Your smart.

      • Kenya says:

        Okay the goverment are demons and devils. They mad at me cause I speak out they got someone hacking me know as I speak.Then when you are telling the truth they get real mad twist stuff. We are waiting on Jesus Christ return. Judgment will take place.

        • Kenya says:

          correction not know now. They always follow people and it opens up pedophiles to our kids when they do that. They will hire the worse of the worse to. All this invasion of privacy is the works of satan system. Who puts cameras which I have known for a long long time in the cable boxes no the people we did not do it. Your government is taking our rights bit by bit. I mean they are demons.

  15. Robert Zaleski says:

    Don’t forget your laptop camera. Many people I know tape over theirs just for this reason. Even if it is used responsibly, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility some hacker group will get it and use it for their own devices.

  16. Edie Nichols says:

    I’ll be getting rid of my DVR that’s a given! Now where’s that black electrical tape for my camera on my laptop………………….

  17. BitterClinger says:

    Too bad for the cable companies…. I don’t watch television

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