Prompted by “Does LG’s Smart TV Spying Hint at New Personal Recommendation Service?”: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/lg-tv-spying-recommendation-service,news-18116.html
Starting with the basics (emphasis mine)…
To create personalized recommendations, LG would have to collect data on what each viewer is watching. The company has in fact done this, but in a stealthy way that came to light only when a pair of British tech bloggers decided to analyze the data being sent out by their LG smart TVs.
It turns out the devices were collecting not only records of everything the users watched, but also the names of files stored on devices, such as PCs, connected to the same home network as the TVs. […]
Huntley found that his TV… continued to transmit data even after he switched off an item in the TV’s settings called “Collection of watching info.” It was set to “on” by default.
After the story broke in November, LG soon issued a statement that the inability to change the watching info setting was a glitch, as was the collection of filenames from a user’s network. […]
Fast-forward to this week’s CES tech show in Las Vegas and LG’s new smart TVs. The sets have, according to the TV maker’s descriptions, the ability to draw from a host of data sources — searching and organizing content from video apps, broadcast TV, connected game consoles and perhaps soon, DVRs.
With all that information, LG’s smart TVs will have detailed knowledge of what people watch.
My solution to marketers forcibly taking over the world (or such) in the absence of any genuine political leadership is smart businesses leveraging the righteous demand for privacy defense by building ‘average citizen’ products that basically do exactly what those British tech bloggers did — a data gateway monitor ensuring marketing (and other) data going out is acceptable to you.
We at large allow companies to deeply infiltrate the knowledge of our lives without scrutiny, even though the one controlling the information logically controls the world. Granted I’m not that paranoid about it (human stupidity comes in so many flavors, that uniformly collecting such information for world domination in the stupidity chaos is laughably unlikely).
But once that data (e.g. camera data of what you’re — perhaps abusively — doing on the couch) leaves your domain, it can spread anywhere and perhaps accessed by people ready to harm your reputation (if you refuse to pay the handsome ransom) or such.
The army of the marketing invasion? Long and hideously boring license agreements that must be agreed to for product/service usage combined with pitifully serious public apathy.
I feel safe in assuming that we’re all guilty of blindly accepting such agreements (there’s a rather scarily humorous South Park episode about it), because every software company (at least to the best of my fairly solid knowledge on this front) insists upon one.
The ultimate question here is what happens when mass stupidity threatens us all?
The answer can only logically be that the remaining intelligent folks take matters into their own hands and ensure that data abuse from any device is rejected.
There should also be market research into the idea of paying to avoid data sharing (i.e. offsetting the data sharing revenue stream by charging the consumer for the privacy feature). As a matter of principle, I’ll always opt for privacy defense, so there’s one consumer ready and willing to buy on this front.
Obviously any privacy company would have to be heavily publicly scrutinized (e.g. by aforementioned British tech bloggers) to ensure there are no “glitches”.
As a society, the net result is walking calmly down the road of reckless convenience like the calm before the storm.
As a smart society, actual leadership needs to guide enough smart folks to do enough smart things to keep our species surviving the wild stupidity chaos. This includes not wasting time lobbying for privacy laws that will always remain questionable (it’s impossible to trust the oligarchy, so reliance upon that trust must be minimized to fullest possible extent).
That’s something to think about when you buy that smart television (the primary marketers’ — and perhaps malicious hackers’ — eye in your home), while applying the same principle to that necessary portable device usually with you outside of home, and the one in your new car.
When computers disappear into the brain (and they most assuredly will for some not too distant generation — perhaps including your beloved grandchildren), the seriousness of privacy defense is amplified greatly.