Today, Republicans in the House of Representatives rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Joe Crowley (Queens, the Bronx) to protect families from the hidden dangers posed by wireless audio and video baby monitors. Rep. Crowley's amendment would have directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), when ruling on matters relating to baby monitors, to require producers of analog baby monitors to include packaging labels warning families that potential intruders can easily see and hear into their home through an analog baby monitor camera. The Republican-led House rejected Crowley's amendment by a vote of 196-219.
"I'm shocked my colleagues on the other side of the aisle rejected this common-sense amendment to help parents keep their kids and homes safe," said Rep. Crowley. "Parents use baby monitors to keep an eye on their children's safety -- not to give potential intruders a window into their home. It is time to put a label on these products and make it crystal clear to parents that the devices are not private or secure. This is a simple fix to a serious problem for American families, and I'm going to keep fighting to pass it into law."
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. By purchasing certain types of wireless baby video monitors and intercepting signals, outsiders waiting hundreds of feet from a home or canvassing a neighborhood can quickly and easily see the same image of a young child or an entire room seen by parents inside the home. Potential intruders could also identify whether the parents or children are home at all, helping create conditions for burglary. 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 the child.
In 2010, Crowley called on the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 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. He later introduced the Keeping Kids Safe Act, legislation that would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require clear and prominent labeling on the packaging of wireless baby monitors to warn parents that the signals being used to transmit video and/or audio of their child may be easily intercepted by potential intruders.
Despite the rejection of today's amendment, Crowley will continue to push for passage of the Keeping Kids Safe Act.
Congressman Crowley is a seven-term representative from the 7th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He serves as chief deputy whip in the Democratic leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and is a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.