The 21st Show

The ‘Keep Internet Devices Safe’ Act; Helping Unaccompanied Homeless Students; Seasonal Cheeses


Elaine Thompson/AP

Tech lobbying groups have gone after a new bill in Illinois that would ban companies from recording people without their knowledge. Plus, 700,000 high schoolers in the U.S. experience homelessness every year.  But, they can only get the help they need if their schools can identify them. How can that happen? And, we hear about seasonal food all the time. But what about seasonal cheeses?

One of every four households in America have a smart speaker. The “smart” part means you can speak to an Alexa or Google home device to get radio, the weather, or music. Some people don’t use them for fear that someone is listening in to your conversations all the time because, they’re always on, listening for you to cue them.

Recently Bloomberg news reported that Amazon employs thousands of workers to listen to you talking to Alexa devices in order to improve its voice transcription efficiency. But those workers also heard private conversations and in at least two cases, maybe even an assault.

That story came out just as here in Illinois, state senators passed the Keep Internet Devices Safe Act. This bill would ban internet device manufacturers like Google and Amazon from collecting audio from you without your knowledge.

But, those representing the tech industry, and especially big companies like Google and Amazon, have lobbied hard against the bill. They say the existing law already addresses personal communication recording while others say that tech giants stripped down the bill and made sure it lacked protections that were in the original one.

Senator Cristina Castro is the sponsor of this bill. The Democrat represents Illinois’ 22nd district which covers parts of the Chicago suburbs of Elgin, Streamwood and Hoffman Estates. Matt Erickson is the Industry Outreach Director for the Digital Privacy Alliance, a Chicago based non-profit focused on protecting internet privacy. Both joined us on the line. 


Every year across the country, 700,000 high school-age students are homeless and on their own. That’s according to data from Chapin Hall, a research and policy center at the University of Chicago.

Research from America’s Promise Alliance found that students who are living in homelessness are nearly 90 percent more likely to drop out of high school compared with their peers. And, those who do end up dropping out are more likely to face the problem of homelessness as adults.

Many schools here in Illinois have the tools to help kids struggling with homelessness, but not if they don’t know which students need their help.

Deb Dempsey knows about this first hand. She is the homelessness liaison for schools in Kane County, Illinois. She’s also with the Kane County Regional Office Of Education’s Equal Chance Program.

Beth Horwitz also spoke with us- she's a policy Analyst for Chapin Hall. Lee Gaines has been reporting on this for Illinois Newsroom. 


We hear a lot these days about eating local and seasonal. We also tend to think that’s limited to fruits and vegetables. But what about when it comes to cheese?

The spring cheeses that are best known in the U.S. are goat cheeses. And for those who make cheese this time of year, the “seasonality” of the milk affects the final product in a big way. Joining us to talk about the seasonality of milk and what life is like right now on her farm we had Leslie Cooperbrand, the founder and co-owner of Prairie Fruits Farm in Urbana.

The first customer who bought Leslie’s cheeses was Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine in Chicago. Greg O’Neill is the the founder and co-owner of Pastoral, which has three locations in Chicago. 

Story source: WILL