In a startling revelation, the US government admitted to using smart home devices to spy, by a admission by the director of baton intelligence, James Clapper. It comes at a time when encryption is the main topic in an ongoing argument about online security and privacy, essentially privacy against security, with law enforcements wanting backdoor access as means to bypass encryption. Privacy advocates are calling for tighter controls over what law enforcement agencies can and cannot use in the way of spying.
Organisations such as the FBI and CIA want to have more control and more remote access, in order to ‘protect civilians’ but it pushes the envelope of security being compromised in order to heighten spying capabilities. It is claimed that the government plan to use the ‘internet of things’ to spy on citizens, which includes the ever-growing list of connected smart devices around the home, such as TVs, games consoles, and even devices such as FitBt. Samsung even faced a lot of criticism last year when it was revealed that they warned users in the manual about their television sets that listen to everything in the room, so it advised users to be careful when talking about sensitive and personal information within earshot of the TV. This invokes parallels to George Orwell’s 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four where the dystopian future told of how governments spied on citizens using devices in the home.
This isn’t the first time home devices have been thrown into the spotlight when it comes to privacy invasion and snooping. Children toys such as the smart bear from Mattel and the Barbie who communicates with children have also found out they can be used to both steal private information, but also to spy on the users too. If online security is a priority to you, then the only thing you can do is to use technology smartly and think how important a TV that listens to you really is.
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