What brand is your home? Do you live in a Google, Apple, or Amazon house? Because in a modern “smart home” you may choose only one, and that choice locks you into dependence on only that vendor and its approved partners for any future appliances and home gadgets. Your “AI” voice assistant may talk to you, but it won’t talk to its competitors.
The modern smart home is a place where every appliance and device has its own embedded computer connected to the Internet and streaming data not just to the customer, but also to the vendor. While the battle for the phone market is ongoing, and whoever wins that battle wins control of the most personal and most important computer (and data) in a modern person’s life, Big Tech companies have decided that the home is the next big front in the battle for marketshare. Winning this battle means extending the same type of complete control and data collection companies currently enjoy on phones into the remaining parts of our life currently outside of their grasp.
The case of the difficulty of buying a car that’s respects your privacy is an issue that is discussed, but by far not broad and publicly enough. Bruce Schneier mentions the problem in his book “Click here to kill everybody!”. He personally had the same problem when buying a car.
It’s not only about privacy, it’s also about security. With smart home you will create the world biggest robot (someone I don’t remember said public). A robot that can do harm in the whole world. If a hacker or virus etc gets control over some objects, they are like the robotic arms who can interact with the real world. Just think about a furnace who will heating on max energy (even more then what people can choose manually) until something starts to burn. Or think about a simple light bulb which starts to flicker while the person who’s living there has epilepsy (and in some cases nobody could help).
In the moment an object is connected to the world via internet, it has to be defended against the worlds whole digital crime energy and it is impossible to defend every single and cheap china produced gadget.
And another thing I’m fearing even more: Cars who collect not only data by his driver and other people inside the cars, but also about every person around these cars. I drove a Tesla 3 weeks ago (and for first time). It has so many cameras around this car. You can see in real time what this car could identify in the environment. Street markers, speed sign, cars, transporter, bikes, people … and you never know what data will be collected by it’s company and for how long. In worst case every captured picture will be uploaded and saved for ever.
Tesla is just one of the first companies, but the big “vision” is to have autonomic cars everywhere created by every car company which can calling home. Once this is reached, it is even worse than Londons public cameras with biometric face analysis. No need to tell that these cars are like smart home robotic arms -> can be hacked and … (yep, no need to say).
True, but imagine the additional cause of a bad actor having a botnet established in energy-hungry home devices in a major, densely populated region. I am not talking about a black-out anymore, but of structural damage. I’ve seen this a few years ago in winter in a mountainous region in Europe (there was a environmental cause), and it took a week or so just to rebuild the electrical grid in order to cover 70% of the population. In the meanwhile, all efforts went to keeping hospitals running and major supermarkets open at least a few hours a day.
I guess electrical grids are not yet engineered or covered against such risks.
Actually, Apple is THE WORST as far as privacy. A De-Googled Android phone is the best full-featured alternative to a Librem 5 or there’s the less featuredPinePhone option. See the following for details:
So I’m a lawyer… search warrants and court subpoenas are nothing like ‘state sponsored espionage’. IMO ‘privacy’ is very different from ‘protection from the law’. Your argument is like saying ‘there is no privacy in the USA because the police can raid your house without your permission if you are doing illegal stuff in there’.
China’s totally different and comparing their government’s systematic human right abuses to stats about US court subpoenas is an absolute joke (no, I’m not American BTW and I have my own issues with 'Murrica but being able to arrest people for doing illegal stuff online isn’t one of them).
In China… there’s a firewall blocking most of the internet. If you use a VPN you can be arrested. WeChat is ‘the’ app for everything in life (and the government monitors it heavily). Further… you don’t have open courts, democracy, the rule of law or a concept of free speech. This is the biggie as the US police will get a warrant to seize your device when you’ve just downloaded 1TB worth of child abuse materials from a server. I’m okay with that, particularly when they follow due process (which often favours criminals as US law respects human rights). China? There’s no open courts or requirement that the government seek permission from the courts to retrieve data for starters. The government will seize your device and put you in prison (plus re-education/labour) for 30 years if you say stuff like ‘haha Jinping looks like Winnie the Pooh’, ‘Taiwan and Hong Kong are independent countries’ or ‘I don’t agree with the Uyghur genocide in East Kyrgistan’ or ‘hey did you know that in 1989 our government massacred student protestors in tiananmen square using military tanks and stuff?’
Arresting kiddie fiddlers, terrorists and drug smugglers (after seeking court permission to take their data) is one thing. Actively monitoring everybody’s data (without requiring permission or having an open court process) for political dissent and the spreading of factual information about an authoritarian dictatorship’s human rights record (or simply light-hearted jokes about its leader that anger the said leader) is a privacy issue.
Is this not what the NSA does, according Edward Snowden. In addition plotting to murder journalists (Yahoo News) is make me rethink what is meant by “Democracy” (especial when you can donate big money to buy the hearth of peoples representatives).
At least trying avoidance of this widespread monitoring, by whatever government, is one of the reasons for me to buy an L5.
Edward Snowden did not draft the Patriot Act. It’s publicly available legislation that provides circumstances in which wiretapping can happen (with the court’s permission). If data were gathered without a warrant, it couldn’t be used in court. So no… the Patriot Act doesn’t enable opportunistic monitoring and censorship of free speech. It specifically enables law enforcement officers to listen in on people suspected of terrorism, IF… and only IF… they have a warrant. They can then use their findings in an open court if any wrongdoing is discovered (where the said person will not only be able to mount a defence… they can also scrutinise whether proper process was used to gather evidence against them).
If you wanna read the scope of the Patriot Act, it’s online (and quite public). It’s definitely not some spooky, secretive tool that’s being used to censor people who criticise the USA. How do I know? Well look at the conversation we’re having for crying out loud!!! Try doing this in China or Russia (Snowden’s beloved new country). There will be police at your door before you finish typing and you’ll ‘disappear’ (hence why Snowden dare not criticise Russia of all places, despite widespread election rigging, silencing of political opponents and zero free speech). Snowden’s only wanted because he stole hard disks from government servers and handed them over to a foreign government. He knew this was illegal when he did it and he’s actively avoided the USA (where he’d face an open court hearing) in the hope that one day a president will grant him an unconditional pardon.
He can keep wishing but the NSA’s ability to monitor terrorists online (with a warrant) ain’t anything like what China and Russia do in terms of suppressing the free speech of those who dare speak against their authoritarian dictatorships. I think it’s a real luxury that we can live in liberal democracies and joke that laws designed to monitor terrorists are up there with what such places are doing…