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The internet of things: how your TV, car and toys could spy on you
Can your smart TV spy on you? Absolutely, says the US director of national intelligence. The ever-widening array of "smart" web-enabled devices pundits have dubbed the internet of things [IoT] is a welcome gift to intelligence officials and law enforcement, according to director James Clapper. "In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials", Clapper told the Senate in public testimony on Tuesday.
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. "One helpful feature for surveillance is that private sector IoT generally blabs a lot, routinely into some server, somewhere",said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "That data blabbing can be insecure in the air, or obtained from storage".
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 are, of course, legitimate and tightly warranted reasons for law enforcement surveillance, and there are also companies that take hard lines against turning their users over to the government. But hardware manufacturers often default to crummy security, or don't offer a choice, and consumers often make themselves more vulnerable than they should.
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