Data has become more valuable than oil, and technology companies are constantly coming up with new ways to extract personal information out of your home. The reason smart TVs are so cheap on black Friday is because the data they will eventually collect on every consumer is far more valuable than the cheap sticker price of that smart TV. Smart TVs come with a camera and a microphone. Even when you’re not using these features, the technology is still listening to you, collecting information from your private conversations in your own home. This data is valuable to companies, advertisers and consequentially, malicious thieves and hackers.
Technology researchers Chris Speed and Joe Lindley spoke about personal data collection at the Cheltenham Science Festival. Consumers openly accept intimate data collection now, surrendering their privacy to sophisticated smart technologies such as Amazon Alexa, Samsung Smart TVs and Google Assistant. These devices are learning everything about the individual and are transmitting data about people’s behavior in order to predict their future behavior or to manipulate their future behavior. This is why private information is increasingly valuable to these companies: It ultimately drives sales and can be used to manipulate people to buy almost anything based on their previous behavior/conversations.
Professor Lindley, of University of Lancaster, warned that technology companies are using smart technology to monetize data collection and drive sales. “You probably don’t need a new television but 4K was invented to sell more TVs,’ he said. He said the technology companies benefit from consumers by getting them to buy an internet connected smart TV. “It’s more likely than not reporting back what you are watching and when you are watching it. The company you got it from knows who you are and they can monetize that. It’s part of this data economy and data is the new oil,” Lindley warns.
It’s not just phones and TVs that are listening in. Door locks, security systems, bathroom scales, refrigerators, light bulbs, toilets, faucets, thermostats and even toothbrushes can now be connected to the internet to transmit data about a person’s behavior. The FBI now warns that smart technology is being used to spy on people and it’s extremely vulnerable to hackers. The FBI warns that hackers can use your smart TV as a back door to access your wireless router and home computer.
Companies give consumers an illusion of control over their personal data. When technology companies give your data away to third party relationships, your data can easily be sold, lost, hacked or used in algorithms to prey upon your weaknesses. No one has any real control over their own data. Professor Speed from the University of Edinburgh gave an example, “There are third-party relationships between Google and the NHS — it means that if I’m sitting on an ‘internet of things’ toilet in England I don’t know where my toilet activity has gone,” he said. “It may well have been sold to a third party… and I get a bundle of toilet roll on my doorstep two weeks later.”
Even though consumers might find things like this convenient, who is making the decisions for you? Who is dictating your life? By giving up your privacy and allowing companies to predict your behavior, you are becoming nothing more than a zombie consumer, a puppet that bends and twists every time you are told to move. The devices collect so much data about you now, that they can understand your weaknesses and prey upon your desires.
It’s time to take practical steps to disconnect from smart devices.
For more visit PrivacyWatch.News.