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March 16, 2017 | Yes, Your Appliances Can Spy On You

James Corbett

James Corbett is an editorial writer for The International Forecaster, the bi-weekly e-newsletter created by the late Bob Chapman.

Just when you thought the fake news establishment media had hit rock bottom, along comes #kellyannemicrowave. For those fortunate souls who have escaped the gravitational pull of the black hole of societal discourse that is Twitter, that’s a hash tag that refers to Kellyanne Conway’s endlessly parodied remarks about microwave spying.

And for the few people in the English-speaking word who haven’t heard about it yet, North Jersey Record columnist Mike Kelly asked Conway (Trump’s Senior Counselor) about the President’s claims that he was wiretapped by then-President Obama during the transition period last fall. She responded by alluding to a much wider definition of surveillance than the word “wiretapping” might suggest:

“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other. You can surveil someone through their phones, certainly through their television sets — any number of ways.” Conway went on to say that the monitoring could be done with “microwaves that turn into cameras,” adding: “We know this is a fact of modern life.”

Cue a seeming infinitude of late-night parodies, Twitter hashtags, snide comments around the water cooler and general mockery from people who still think we are living in the olden days where we can safely snicker at those crazy conspiracy theorists: “Oh, that Kellyanne, she needs to adjust her tinfoil hat!”

Except, for the millionth time, the real story is being deliberately obscured behind the mockery.

The real story here is that so-called “smart” devices (i.e. spying devices) now make up a greater and greater percentage of the consumer marketplace. These devices, including thermostats, dishwashers, TVs, and, yes, microwaves, are on the market today, and they are capable of sending large amounts of data about you and your household to corporate

Smart technology represents less of a breakthrough in power distribution and more of a revolution in complete, constant, panopticon-like surveillance of everyone. As these smart technologies begin to invade our homes, we are becoming mere nodes in a giant network that we yet but dimly comprehend. Called the “Internet of Things,” the plan is to create a network that will eventually include every single object on the planet. And as the public is finally becoming aware, such networks provide golden opportunities for corporations and governments alike to collect data and spy on the population.

This is not mere conjecture. Before becoming enmeshed in an affair that ultimately derailed his career, former CIA director David Petraeus bragged openly about how these smart technologies would allow intelligence agencies to spy on everyone in their own homes, using their own appliances. Speaking at a summit for In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture capital firm, Petraeus noted: “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.[…]In practice, these technologies could lead to rapid integration of data from closed societies and provide near-continuous, persistent monitoring of virtually anywhere we choose.”

Whether Petraeus’ own downfall as a result of FBI eavesdropping on private emails is part of a plan to warn future would-be whistleblowers, poetic justice, or mere irony, it is nonetheless instructive. When everything that anyone does is tracked, traced and databased at all times, from our dishwasher usage to our television viewing to our toilet flushes, no one will be able to avoid the gaze of the state, regardless of whether or not they have “something to hide.”

As ITWorld’s Kevin Fogarty observed, if J. Edgar Hoover were alive he would die of jealousy at the technologies available to the would-be Big Brothers of today.

As nightmarish as this seems, the possibilities for tyrannical misappropriation of this technology are even worse. Given that networked appliances allow for remote access, smart technology actually raises the specter that governments and corporations will be able to control the items in your own home.

Here again, as much as this sounds like Buck Rogers fantasy or Orwellian nightmare, it is in fact mundane reality. As far back as 2008, California lawmakers were already tabling legislation that would mandate the installation of smart technologies and allow governmental bodies to automatically adjust homeowners’ thermostats up or down to conserve energy at peak usage times. The stark truth is that any appliance can be turned on or off, adjusted, or otherwise manipulated by anyone with access to the network remotely, including your own car.

Most worrying of all, whether or not we want to use these technologies, the average person is being left with little choice. More and more of the appliances and household goods we use have these technologies embedded by default, and now, thanks to the so-called “smart” meters that are increasingly being installed in people’s homes without their knowledge or consent, that choice is being removed entirely.

The head-scratching part of all of this is that they are now attempting to mock Kellyanne Conway for bringing up the subject of smart surveillance (albeit in a clumsy way) just days after discovering that, yes, the CIA can spy on you through your smart TV.

Head-scratching, that is, if you believe the media is there to report facts about the world, rather than politically expedient agendas.

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March 16th, 2017

Posted In: The International Forecaster

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