Congressman Crowley Warns of Urgent Privacy, Safety Threats Posed by Wireless Baby Monitors
Washington, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), called on the Federal Communications and Federation Trade Commissions and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue guidance to American families on the privacy and safety dangers posed by transmission through wireless video and audio baby monitors.
“Parents purchase baby monitors to protect and secure their children – not to open their homes to the eyes of anyone who seeks to look inside,” Congressman Crowley says in a letter he sent to the three agencies.
Recent media reports have shown how easy it is for potential intruders and kidnappers to watch and listen to what goes on in a home by using an inexpensive, easily-attainable monitor tuned to the same channel as a working baby monitor. This threat extends beyond a possible invasion of privacy – it opens American homes to kidnapping, home invasion and other crimes.
“Parents need to know that there are dangers lurking in the very devices that are supposed to help us protect our children,” said Crowley. “By seeing every nook and cranny in your child’s room, potential abductors can figure out the best time and way to kidnap your child. Or a burglar can easily determine if anyone is home. Parents have the right to know which devices could potentially expose their families, and I urge these agencies to look into this matter and take action immediately.”
Crowley also plans to introduce legislation in the House of Representatives next week to address the dangers posed by wireless baby monitors.
The full text of the letter sent to FCC Chairman Genachowski, FTC Chairman Liebowitz and CPSC Chairman Tenenbaumis below:
November 24, 2010
Chairman, Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street SW
Washington, DC 20554
Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580
Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway
Bethesda, MD 20814
Dear Chairpersons Genachowski, Liebowitz and Tenenbaum:
I want to express my serious concern and request urgent action regarding a recent series of reports exposing the danger to American families posed by wireless video and audio baby monitors.
Parents purchase baby monitors to protect and secure their children – not to open their home to the eyes of anyone who seeks to look inside. However, recent investigations have found that intruders or kidnappers can literally look and listen inside a family home with the assistance of a readily available store-bought wireless baby monitor.
By purchasing certain types of wireless baby video monitors, outsiders waiting hundreds of feet from a home can quickly and easily see the same image of a young child or an entire room seen by parents inside the home. Or, anyone can simply drive through a neighborhood with a wireless baby monitor and search for signals. Potential intruders could identify whether the parents or children are home at all, helping create conditions for burglary – a serious concern for the upcoming holiday season when many families travel. Even worse, a potential kidnapper or abuser could easily identify the location of a child within the home and the easiest point of entry to abduct or cause harm to a child.
Parents deserve to be fully informed about the serious potential risks to their children posed by wireless baby monitors. I strongly urge the FTC and FCC to investigate this issue and require visible and prominent labeling on all baby monitors warning parents which devices can be viewed or listened to by outside parties. Further, I urge the Consumer Product Safety Commission to conduct a risk analysis of wireless baby monitors and issue public guidance informing parents of the dangers of some types of these products. I further ask that the CPSC issue recommendations to parents about what types of baby monitors do not expose their children, families and homes to such dangers.
I plan on introducing legislation to help ensure that parents receive all the information they need about these products. I look forward to your timely response.
Member of Congress
Congressman Crowley is the six-term representative from the 7th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He serves as a member of the exclusive House Committee on Ways & Means and Committee on Foreign Affairs.