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The Whole Point of the Internet of Things Is so Big Brother Can Spy on You

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 22:26
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(Before It's News)

The government is already spying on us through spying on us
through our ""
target="_blank">computers, phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at
airports and on the street, via mobile scanners and drones, through
our credit cards and smart meters
( ""
target="_blank">see this
), ""
, ""
, and in many other ways.

The CIA ""
target="_blank">wants to spy on you through your dishwasher
other “smart” appliances. Slate ""
in 2012:

Watch out: the CIA may soon be spying on you—through your
beloved, intelligent household appliances, ""
target="_blank">according to Wired

In early March, at a meeting for the CIA’s venture capital firm
In-Q-Tel, CIA Director David Petraeus reportedly noted that
smart appliances” connected to the Internet could someday
be used by the CIA to track individuals. If your
grocery-list-generating refrigerator knows when you’re home, the
CIA could, too, by using geo-location data from your wired
, ""
target="_blank">according to SmartPlanet

“The current ‘Internet of PCs’ will move, of course, toward an
‘Internet of Things’—of devices of all types—50 to 100 billion of
which will be connected to the Internet by 2020,” href=
target="_blank">Petraeus said in his speech
. He continued:

Items of interest will be located, identified,
monitored, and remotely controlled
through technologies
such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny
embedded servers, and energy harvesters—all connected to the
next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power
computing—the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas
greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to
quantum computing.

Last year, U.S. Intelligence Boss James Clapper "nofollow" href=
that the government will spy on Americans
through the internet of things (“IoT”):

In the future, intelligence services might use the [IoT] for
identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and
targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user

Yves Smith "" target=
at the time:

Oh, come on. The whole point of the IoT is spying. The
officialdom is just trying to persuade you that it really is a big
consumer benefit to be able to tell your oven to start heating up
before you get home.

The Guardian ""

As a category, the internet of things is useful to eavesdroppers
both official and unofficial for a variety of reasons, the main one
being the leakiness of the data.


There are a wide variety of devices that can be used to listen
in, and some compound devices (like cars) that have enough hardware
to form a very effective surveillance suite all by themselves.


There’s no getting around the fundamental creepiness of the
little pinhole cameras in new smart TVs (and Xbox Kinects, and
laptops, and cellphones), but the less-remarked-on aspect – the
audio – may actually be more pertinent to anyone with a warrant
trying to listen in. Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and
Society observed that Samsung’s voice recognition software in its
smart TVs had to routinely send various commands “home” to a server
where they were processed for relevant information; their
microphones are also always on, in case you’re trying to talk to
them. Televisions are also much easier to turn on than they used to
be: a feature creeping into higher-end TVs called “wake on LAN”
allows users to power on televisions over the internet (this is
already standard on many desktop PCs).


A cyberattack on toymaker VTech exposed the personal data of
6.4m children last year; it was a sobering reminder of the
vulnerability of kids on the web. But technology waits for no man.
Mattel’s Hello Barbie doll works the same way the Nest and Samsung
voice operators do, by passing kids’ interactions into the cloud
and returning verbal responses through a speaker in the doll. HereO
manufactures a watch for kids with a GPS chip in it; Fisher-Price
makes a WiFi-enabled stuffed animal. Security researchers at Rapid7
looked at both and found that they were easy to compromise on
company databases, and in the case of the watch, use to locate the

In a separate article, the Guardian ""
target="_blank">pointed out

Just a few weeks ago, a security researcher href=
target="_blank">found that Google’s Nest thermostats
leaking users’ zipcodes over the internet. There’s "nofollow" href=
target="_blank">even an entire search engine
for the internet
of things called Shodan that allows users to easily search for
unsecured webcams that are broadcasting from inside people’s houses
without their knowledge.

While people voluntarily use all these devices, the chances are
close to zero that they fully understand that a lot of their data
is being sent back to various companies to be stored on servers
that can either be accessed by governments or hackers.


Author and persistent Silicon Valley critic target="_blank" href="/r2/?url=" target=
"_blank">Evgeny Morozov
summed up the entire problem with the
internet of things and “smart” technology in a href=
target="_blank">tweet last week

And in the wake of the CIA leaks showing that the agency can
target="_blank">remotely turn on our tvs
and spy on us using a
“fake off” mode so that it looks like the power is off, Tech Dirt
wrote in an article called ""
target="_blank">CIA Leaks Unsurprisingly Show The Internet Of
Broken Things Is A Spy’s Best Friend

The security and privacy standards surrounding the internet of
(broken) things sit somewhere between high comedy and dogshit.

As security expert Bruce Schneier points out, the entire
concept of the IoT is ""
target="_blank" title=
"wildly insecure and vulnerable to hacking">wildly insecure and
vulnerable to hacking

The highest-level NSA whistleblower in history (William Binney)
– the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass
surveillance program for digital information, 36-year NSA veteran
widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, who served as the
senior technical director within the agency, and managed thousands
of NSA employees – reviewed an earlier version of this post, and
told Washington’s Blog:

Yep, that summarizes it fairly well. It does not deal with
industry or how they will use the data; but, that will probably be
an extension of what they do now. This whole idea of monitoring
electronic devices is objectionable.

If forced to buy that stuff, I will do my best to disconnect
these monitoring devices also look for equipment on the market that
is not connected in any way.

target="_blank">The Whole POINT of the Internet of Things Is So Big
Brother Can Spy On You
was originally
on "" target="_blank">Washington’s


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