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Assembly Approves Downey, Mosquera, Spencer, Danielsen & Houghtaling Legislation Strengthening Protections, Raising Awareness of Unsecured Baby Monitors

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Joann Downey, Gabriela Mosquera L. Grace Spencer, Joe Danielsen and Eric Houghtaling to establish protections for families who use baby monitors with an internet connection was approved, 69-4-5, by the full Assembly on Monday.

“In this age of technology, even baby monitors with the ability to connect to the internet can be dangerous for families to have in their homes,” said Downey (D- Monmouth). “Baby monitors that broadcast live audio and video feeds over the internet can be viewed remotely by unknown persons on a computer, cellular telephone, tablet, or other internet-connected advice. This should be a cause for alarm for manufacturers and a reason to strengthen security protections for these devices.”

The Office of Technology, Research and Investigation, in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), studied five baby monitors that broadcast live audio and video feeds over the internet and found that some of them have minimal security protections. Only one required a complex password while the others allowed users access with simple passwords, such as “password,” making them vulnerable to hackers. Two of the five baby monitors the FTC studied did not encrypt the feed between the router and internet resulting in additional vulnerabilities.

“Recent news articles have highlighted the vulnerabilities of Internet-connected baby monitors that lack basic security features, making them prone to even simple hacking attempts,” said Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester). “The rise of hacking incidents and security breaches demands that everything, including baby monitors, must have security features to protect families from technological invasions.”

“The possibility of an unknown individual watching a person’s baby is frightening for many parents who have come to rely on these devices,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “A hacked camera could also provide access to other Wi-Fi-enabled devices in a resident’s home, such as a personal computer or security system. All baby monitors should be equipped with security features and labeled with a warning for parents to be cautious in their use of the device.”

The bill (A-3581) requires no baby monitor that broadcasts audio or video online shall be sold, or offered for sale in New Jersey, unless it includes: (1) security features to prevent unauthorized users from hearing or viewing activity; and (2) a label or notice warning consumers of the risks associated with an unsecured baby monitor connection and the importance of accessing the baby monitor securely and using its security features.

“Parents remain aware of the many dangers that can be associated with Wi-Fi enabled devices,” said Danielsen (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “In this technological age, legislation like this one is required and ensure that companies share in the responsibility of keeping parents well-informed of the security features provided with Wi-Fi enabled devices.”

“This is a good consumer protection measure,” said Houghtaling (D- Monmouth). “Ensuring these devices are properly labeled will keep parents informed of the dangers of Wi-Fi enabled devices and aware of the steps which must be taken to protect their children and families from online predators.”

The bill provides that it would be an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act to sell, offer for sale any baby monitor without security features and a corresponding warning label.

The measure was released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee on June 6.