IoT isn't all bright shiny objects that go buzz. With every small computer that we install to play music, measure our water consumption or track Fido's barking, we allow that machine access to our lives. Here are two articles that walk through the central issues with IoT. Where do you stand?
- What safeguards can we put in place to be mindful of personal data?
- How do we balance convenience + innovation with privacy?
The Coming War on General-Purpose Computing
by Cory Doctorow, boingboing.net http://boingboing.net/2012/01/10/lockdown.html
As a member of the Walkman generation, I have made peace with the fact that I will require a hearing aid long before I die. It won't be a hearing aid, though; it will really be a computer. So when I get into a car—a computer that I put my body into—with my hearing aid—a computer I put inside my body—I want to know that these technologies are not designed to keep secrets from me, or to prevent me from terminating processes on them that work against my interests. Last year, the Lower Merion School District, in a middle-class, affluent suburb of Philadelphia, found itself in a great deal of trouble. It was caught distributing, to its students, rootkitted laptops that allowed remote covert surveillance through the computer's camera and network connection. They photographed students thousands of times, at home and at school, awake and asleep, dressed and naked. Meanwhile, the latest generation of lawful intercept technology can covertly operate cameras, microphones, and GPS tranceivers on PCs, tablets, and mobile devices. We haven't lost yet, but we have to win the copyright war first if we want to keep the Internet and the PC free and open. Freedom in the future will require us to have the capacity to monitor our devices and set meaningful policies for them; to examine and terminate the software processes that runs on them; and to maintain them as honest servants to our will, not as traitors and spies working for criminals, thugs, and control freaks.
Invasion of the Data Snatchers: Big Data and the Internet of Things Means the Surveillance of Everything
Paul Ohm, a policy advisor to the Federal Trade Commission, calls these immense troves of personal information "databases of ruin." He worries that, over time, these databases will include new waves of data -- maybe from your conscious home or location information from commercial sensors -- and so become ever more consolidated. Soon, he fears, "these databases will grow to connect every individual to at least one closely guarded secret. This might be a secret about a medical condition, family history, or personal preference. It is a secret that, if revealed, would cause more than embarrassment or shame; it would lead to serious, concrete, devastating harm."
Sooner or later, with smart devices seamlessly using sensors and Big Data provided by data aggregators, it will be possible to pick you out of a crowd and identify you in complex ways in real time. If intelligent surveillance cameras armed with facial recognition technology have access to social media profiles as well as the information stored by data aggregators, a digital dossier of your life could be called up on-demand whenever your face is recognized. Imagine the power retailers and companies will exert over your life if they not only know who you are and where you are, but what your weaknesses are -- whether that's booze, cigarettes, or the appealing mortgage rate with the sketchy small print. Are we looking at a future where the car salesman really does know what he has to do to put us in that car?
Big Data is creating the possibility of a far more entrenched, class-based surveillance society that discriminates using our perceived successes and preys on our weaknesses.
1.3.Team Up: Join the Weekly Community call to share your work, meet other bitsters and get advice from celebrity makers.