George Orwell was merely scratching the surface with telescreens – the 21st century home as a surveillance hub will outstrip anything you read about in 1984. From dishwashers to light bulbs, so-called “smart homes” will allow industry and the government to spy ubiquitously on every aspect of your existence.
CIA chief David Petraeus has hailed the “Internet of things” as a transformational boon for “clandestine tradecraft”. In other words, it will soon be easier than ever before to keep tabs on the population since everything they use will be connected to the web, with total disregard for privacy considerations. The spooks won’t have to plant a bug in your home, you will be doing it for them.
“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,” said Petraeus.
Soon you will have to live like a reclusive luddite if you hope to escape the new panopticon of surveillance that will be gratefully lapped up by the masses as a necessary sacrifice for convenience and cutting edge technology.
– Google has announced it will use the ambient background noise of a person’s environment, via their cell phone or computer microphone, to spy on their activities in order to direct targeted advertising at them.
– Microsoft X-Box Kinect games device has a video camera and a microphone that records speech. Microsoft has stated that users “should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features,” and the company “may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications.”
– The modern LED “eco-friendly” light bulb is also a two-way communications device. Ceiling lights currently being installed in offices and government buildings “transmit data to specially equipped computers on desks below by flickering faster than the eye can see.”
– Outside street lights are also being changed to new “smart” versions so they can be used for “homeland security applications”. These devices are fitted with surveillance cameras, can broadcast government announcements, and also have the ability to record conversations.
– Smart meters, now set to become compulsory in many areas, wirelessly communicate with utility companies details about each home’s energy consumption, as well as emitting electromagnetic radiation.Health concerns have prompted some local authorities to allow residents to opt-out, but in other areas the meters are mandatory.
– Forget the government having to implant a chip in your forehead, the modern smart phone, owned by the vast majority of the population, does just as good a job. Five years ago we warned that the first incarnation of the iPhone contained a backdoor spyware module that allowed hackers or the government to conduct secret surveillance of the user. Cell phone surveillance is now ubiquitous. Google was also recently caughttracking the surfing habits of iPhone users via a code that disables the Safari browser’s privacy settings.
– Google’s attitude towards privacy also came under scrutiny when it was discovered that the company was spying on WiFi network data in violation of the Federal Wiretap Act as it gathered images for its Streetview program.
– The most obvious example of all is the Internet itself. ISPs have announced they will keep records of websites visited for at least 12 months, along with details of private communications. This figure is constantly increasing, with the FBI now pushing for ISPs to retain such information for years.
Since the vast majority of people have already taken the decision to sacrifice their privacy for convenience, all of the technologies listed above will be used to spy on individuals and harvest data which will then be sold to big corporations. The vast majority simply do not care. They value the novelty of a fridge being able to tell you when you’re out of milk and automatically ordering more via the Internet more than they do their own privacy.