Somewhere, I read the video camera on my computer could be used to spy on me. Panicked, I called my technician to ask how I could protect my privacy. He replied, “Stick masking tape over the lens.” Okay, that was a cheap, low tech fix. I got lucky. But what about all the other developments on the way, like household appliances that talk to one another? (Blog 12/23/13) What do they do with the information they collect on me?
It’s a fair question. As Clive Thompson reports, all those language devices imbeded in our machines blab everything they know about us to the Cloud. That includes those dictating application for our computers. (Blog 9/18/15) As Thompson explains, there is “a serious disconnect between how most consumers believe these devices operate and how they operate in fact.” (“Watch What You Say,” by Clive Thompson, Wired, November 2015, pg. 60)
Folks need to understand there’s no genie listening and talking inside these machines. The audio, even in GPS devices, goes online for processing. That means our words not only head for the Cloud where they can be hacked, but are stored for two years. So, forget about being circumspect with your emails. Consider what you said to your toaster in the morning. (Has anyone checked Hillary Clinton’s toaster, by the way?) Ditto for your washing machine and coffee pot. And don’t try to guess what the office water cooler might reveal. The big question is can these appliance by subpoenaed like emails?
True, technology makes our lives convenient. But there is a price to pay and that price is privacy. For the younger generation, the cost doesn’t seem so great. They happily share information via smart phones and in chat rooms with anyone who will listen. They’ve become accustomed to letting it all hang out. But persons of my generation aren’t easily seduced. When the NSA can count my cavity fillings through my electronic tooth brush, I balk. The truth may be “out there” but I don’t have to like it.