As technology continues to grow and “smart” technology quickly makes its way into our homes, Illinois law must protect our data and us. The Protecting Household Privacy Act is a one-of-a-kind piece of legislation that places parameters on the collection and use of household electronic data by law enforcement.

Smart household technology has grown at an unprecedented pace. The same virtual assistants, security cameras, and smart appliances that used to appear on TV have now become a part of many American households. Such devices can provide convenient benefits to their owners and offer the promise of a "safe and smart home," with powerful monitoring and automation capabilities.

Equipped with sophisticated sensors, including microphones and video cameras, many of these devices have the capacity to collect, store and transmit an almost limitless amount of personal and private information from within the home. Without regulation, companies could share this information with law enforcement agencies without our knowledge.

To safeguard the privacy of innocent persons using this technology, the Protecting Household Privacy Act (PHPA) steps in to protect sensitive information collected by these technologies.  Consistent with the Fourth Amendment and the United States Supreme Court's recognition that an individual's expectation of privacy is greatest within their home, the PHPA protects household electronic data and does not allow law enforcement agencies to acquire such data from a private third party, unless:

  1. The law enforcement agency first obtained a valid court order or judicial warrant; or 
  2. The owner of the data consents to voluntarily provide the desired data

Even when such data is obtained by a law enforcement agency, the PHPA mandates that it be destroyed within 30 days, unless there is a reasonable suspicion that the information contains evidence of criminal activity or the information is relevant to an ongoing investigation or pending criminal trial.

Illinois citizens should not have to choose between using household technological conveniences and preserving the right to privacy in their home. The PHPA is a critical step to protect our information and limit law enforcement’s access to it in the absence of a valid exception. Without the PHPA, we are at the mercy of these companies – who collect data as part of their business model – to protect our privacy. With the PHPA, we are automatically protected from invasive practices like a ‘backdoor’ created for law enforcement.

Passed House Committee

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