U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today questioned a panel of privacy experts at a full Commerce Committee hearing entitled, “Policy Principles for a Federal Data Privacy Framework in the United States.” The hearing examined approaches Congress might take to develop a national consumer privacy law.
Earlier this week, Thune joined colleagues on the committee in sending a letter to Google seeking information about a media report that the company had not disclosed to consumers the presence of a microphone in its Nest Secure home security device.
Excerpt from Thune’s statement below (as prepared for delivery):
“During my time as chairman of this committee, I held a series of privacy hearings to begin the conversation on what Congress should do to promote clear privacy expectations while ensuring innovation and investment is not stifled.
“So I thank Chairman Wicker for making this a top priority of the committee, and I look forward to continuing my work on this important issue.
“One of the key components to this debate is transparency.
“Transparency allows consumers to make informed decisions about the products and services they use.
“Many companies, some of which are members of the associations represented here today, note that transparency is a core value; however, the actions they take raise serious questions.
“Earlier this month, Google’s Nest home-security devices were found to have a built-in microphone which was not disclosed to consumers in any of the product material.
“Google stated that ‘the on-device microphone was never intended to be a secret.’
“However, even if Google’s actions were not intended to mislead consumers, I do believe there should have been better transparency with respect to these practices.
“This is why I joined Chairman Wicker and Senator Moran this week in asking Google to clarify their practices.”