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Privacy Technology

Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You 150

Presto Vivace (882157) links to a critical look in Time Magazine at the creepy side of connected household technology. An excerpt: A modern surveillance state isn't so much being forced on us, as it is sold to us device by device, with the idea that it is for our benefit. ... ... Nest sucks up data on how warm your home is. As Mocana CEO James Isaacs explained to me in early May, a detailed footprint of your comings and goings can be inferred from this information. Nest just bought Dropcam, a company that markets itself as a security tool allowing you to put cameras in your home and view them remotely, but brings with it a raft of disquieting implications about surveillance. Automatic wants you to monitor how far you drive and do things for you like talk to your your house when you're on your way home from work and turn on lights when you pull into your garage. Tied into the new SmartThings platform, a Jawbone UP band becomes a tool for remotely monitoring someone else's activity. The SmartThings hubs and sensors themselves put any switch or door in play. Companies like AT&T want to build a digital home that monitors your security and energy use. ... ... Withings Smart Body Analyzer monitors your weight and pulse. Teddy the Guardian is a soft toy for children that spies on their vital signs. Parrot Flower Power looks at the moisture in your home under the guise of helping you grow plants. The Beam Brush checks up on your teeth-brushing technique. Presto Vivaci adds, "Enough to make the Stasi blush. What I cannot understand is how politicians fail to understand what a future Kenneth Starr is going to do with data like this."
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Coddled, Surveilled, and Monetized: How Modern Houses Can Watch You

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  • Or, you know (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @11:22AM (#47407425)

    You could just live in a regular house without all that crap.

  • Buy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @11:29AM (#47407471)

    I haven't bought any of this, don't know anyone (personally) who has bought any of this, and don't know why anyone would buy any of this.

    I guess, however, some people may have more money than brains. I wish they would put it into Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Rockethub, instead of this crap.

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @11:32AM (#47407509)

    ... If somebody learns every detail of the motions I make when I brush my teeth...

    While your comment sounds like over-the-top sarcasm, keep in mind the time when you go to the dentist and your dental insurance company refuses to pay their portion of the bill because you have not been brushing your teeth properly....

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @11:55AM (#47407755)

    You have for-profit doctors. They sure ain't workin' for free.

    In Canada, most doctors are paid by FFS (fee for service), which gives them some incentive to run up costs. But many other countries, and even some medical companies in America (such as Kaiser), put doctors on a fixed salary. This removes incentives to upcode, and encourages preventative care. For instance, dentists on fixed salaries are FOUR TIMES as likely to use dental sealants, because they no longer have a financial stake in future cavities.

  • So confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2014 @12:51PM (#47408173)

    Call me a curmudgeon, but I just don't see the need for most of this crap. Why even have a light switch that even has the capability to report you back to galactic central?!

    My manual light switches (horrors!) work just fine. I don't see it as even a minor burden to flip them on-and off. Heck my 22 month old has managed to figure them out, and actually finds them fun (actual horrors!). Only a couple of them have required a hardware upgrade in the last ~35 years of their operation (how many web-connected things can claim that!).

    My thermostat is mostly on a basic automatic cycle to be cool at night and comfy during the day. We don't find it to be a big deal to set it to manual or off when we are gone for a while. We chose to live in a moderate climate where further optimization would net us less than our rounding error every month (heating and cooling are 2% of our gross income).

    I just see most of this auto-magic web based crap as an attempt to fix problems that don't exist, or are so minor they aren't worth fixing. In my mental calculus is the likelihood that these things will have bugs, break, and require a lot of tinkering to keep them in a hassle-free operating condition long enough to have a positive ROI.

    But again, I am a curmudgeon.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN