Big Brother alert: Cameras in the cable box to monitor TV viewers

17 June 2013

By Cheryl K. Chumley

The Washington Times


** FILE ** Then-Democratic senatorial hopeful Rep. Michael Capuano, left, speaks to volunteers at his campaign headquarters in Worcester, Mass., Monday, Dec. 7, 2009 while former Mass. Gov. Michael Dukakis applauds with his wife, Kitty. (Associated Press)

** FILE ** Then-Democratic senatorial

hopeful Rep. Michael Capuano, left, speaks to

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It hardly gets more Orwellian than this. New technology would allow cable companies to peer directly into television watchers’ homes and monitor viewing habits and reactions to product advertisements.

The technology would come via the cable box, and at least one lawmaker on Capitol Hill is standing in opposition.

Mass. Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano has introduced a bill, the We Are Watching You Act, to prohibit the technology on boxes and collection of information absent 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, AdWeek reported.

The technology includes cameras and microphones that are installed on DVRs or cable boxes and analyzes viewers’ responses, behaviors and statements to various ads — and then provides advertisements that are targeted to the particular household.

Specifically, the technology can monitor sleeping, eating, exercising, reading and more, AdWeek reported.

“This may sound preposterous, but it’s neither a joke nor an exaggeration,” said Mr. Capuano in a statement, AdWeek reported. “These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy.”

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