Connectivity

FCC probes online retailers over sales of potentially risky smart doorbells

Amazon, Sears among stores that received inquiry letters.
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Knock, knock. It’s the FCC.

Democratic Commissioner Geoffrey Starks wants answers about how and why low-cost smart doorbells that allegedly contain glaring security vulnerabilities are commonly available on e-commerce sites like Amazon.

On March 8, Starks sent letters to the online retail giant—as well as Sears, Temu, and Shein—asking the sellers to explain how they vet the gadgets they list on their sites.

“Consumers have embraced the internet of things to make their lives better to the point that a large majority of American homes now have at least one or two IoT devices,” Starks said in a statement. “Working together, we must find better ways to stop risky and unlawful products from entering the commerce stream—and from seeing their sales irresponsibly boosted when they are listed online.”

The inquiries were driven by a late-February investigation by Consumer Reports, which found that smart doorbells sold under brand names including Eken and Tuck could grant strangers easy access to the devices and the data they collect, as Tech Brew previously reported.

CR also pointed out that the devices didn’t display a visible FCC ID, which is assigned to devices that are approved to emit radio frequencies, and that some of the devices sold on Amazon under the “Amazon’s Choice: Overall Pick” badge.

In his letter to Amazon, Starks questioned how the “selection process works” for the badge and whether that label tends “to increase sales of products bearing that label.” He also asked whether the products in sponsored listings are vetted in any way.

In his statement, he also expressed concerns about the lack of FCC IDs, as the rules are intended to “protect the public from risky products entering our wireless supply chain.”

Responses from the retailers are due March 22, according to the letters.

Keep up with the innovative tech transforming business

Tech Brew keeps business leaders up-to-date on the latest innovations, automation advances, policy shifts, and more, so they can make informed decisions about tech.