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ACLU: The Internet of Things Spells The End of Privacy

on Monday, Mar. 31st

There's a meaty opinion piece up at the American Civil Liberties Union about how "Big Data and the Internet of Things Means the Surveillance of Everything." Catherine Crump and Matthew Harwood of the ACLU lay out a fierce case that the coming technology boom spells the end of privacy:

A future Internet of Things does have the potential to offer real benefits, but the dark side of that seemingly shiny coin is this: companies will increasingly know all there is to know about you. Most people are already aware that virtually everything a typical person does on the Internet is tracked. In the not-too-distant future, however, real space will be increasingly like cyberspace, thanks to our headlong rush toward that Internet of Things. With the rise of the networked device, what people do in their homes, in their cars, in stores, and within their communities will be monitored and analyzed in ever more intrusive ways by corporations and, by extension, the government.

And one more thing: in cyberspace it is at least theoretically possible to log off. In your own well-wired home, there will be no "opt out."

Pundit hat on for a moment: the problem is more with who has access to the information than the gathering of the information itself. Surely there is a way to gain the benefits of the Internet of Things without selling the footprints of our lives to the highest bidder.

For the moment, however, there is no incentive for this to happen. Wall Street has rewarded the two biggest private collectors of personal data–Facebook and Google–handsomely. Meanwhile the United States government, in the form of the National Security Agency, has played the role of the fox guarding the henhouse.

The technological genie is out of the lamp, but the question remains: who will it serve?

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