Being Watched by TV
Back in 2011 I posted a blog Big Brother is Finally Here -- I wasnít sure that bringing a voice recognition, body recognition, always-on system that is hooked up to the Internet was a good idea.
But convenience trumps privacy and no one seems to care much that this technology is getting more invasive all the time. To be honest I donít really care that much either -- Iíve said, ďOkay GoogleĒ to my phone and had it look for things. The fact I can just say ďOkay GoogleĒ without pushing any buttons means, like a good butler, itís quietly listening for my commands in the cornerÖ and it hears everything.
So we have Xbox, your phone, and now it turns out your Samsung TV is recording your conversations and transmitting them to a server for processing by a third party. When called out on the fact your private conversations arenít private, Samsung just added this to their privacy statement
Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through use of Voice Recognition.
... and they don't say who the third party is.
This is disturbing on a lot of levelsÖ
1) Your TV can eavesdrop on your conversations
2) Your conversations are automatically converted to text
3) Your conversations are shared with an unnamed 3rd party for processing
4) We donít know anything about the security of that text, but we can guess that if the NSA is reading your Facebook they are now scanning your private conversations.
6) Facial recognition? My TV has facial recognition? Does that mean there's a camera?
7) It's hard to find mainstream coverage of this, even though it's clearly true (I had to dig to find a BBC article even though it was published last week)
8) No one seems to think this is a problem
Now hereís the thingÖ I like the interconnectedness of things. I like the superpowers technology gives us. But, to quote the wise words of Stan Lee, with great power comes great responsibility.
As long as no one ever uses my private words against me, just like as long as they donít use my Google searches or my rambling phone conversations with my brother about Whatís Wrong With This Country, then weíre fine.
Or are we? Because the gestalt of data can be even more powerful. Remember our TVs and phones are the things that not only entertain us but provide us with the information that we base our decisions on.
Say we collect all your conversations and all of everything everyone is talking about and put it into a giant text algorithm. And say we have an agenda, maybe to sell more stuff, maybe something more sinister. And say we control your information source.
Now we know your opinions, we know the direction of thought. And we know what is informing that thought. And we can make it harder to get some information and easier to get some other information (by opposing Net neutrality for example).
Iím not suggesting this is happening, certainly not as consciously as some sinister room of men in suits. But when you have access to what people are thinking, and you control what they seeÖ. Itís a pretty scary thought.
Ok Google. Post my blog.
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Be sure to see my blog over at Cloudenity. This week's topic:
The Physical Impossibility of Migrating to the Cloud