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article imageUS government is purchasing smart data to spy on its citizens

By Tim Sandle     Apr 8, 2021 in Politics
Smart devices offer many conveniences. However, smart devices are also designed to collect data and in countries like the U.S. it is permissible for companies to bundle and sell the data, including to the government.
Smart home technology continues to grow in popularity. One driver has been with the pandemic and during the past year, smart home technology geared around improving communications, boosting hygiene, and making our more housebound lives easier has shown the greatest growth. Such devices are geared to improve aspects of everyday life.
Not everything is benign in the smart home market, according to an article published in The Guardian. This finds that in the U.S. many smart-home devices such as thermostats and fridges are collecting data that is sold to third parties.
This happens due to lax privacy laws in the country, as is stated: “approach a third-party firm that sells databases of information on citizens, pay them for it and then use the data however deemed fit.”
One of the main buyers of information is the U.S. government itself. For example, The Washington Post finds that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are using data collected from devices to search for illegal immigrants. This includes purchasing millions of phone, water, electricity, and other utility records in the pursuit of immigration violations.
The information collated by the government, unbeknown to most citizens, is transferred into databses. Such digital repositories hold millions of names, addresses and service records drawn from utility companies. These companies provide services like water, gas and electricity, and phone, Internet and cable TV.
The databases are operated by third parties, who purchase the data from utility companies, sort it, and then sell it onwards. This activity forms part of the fast growing economy of data brokerage.
For those consumers who are quite happy to give away their personal data, the issue may not matter much. For those concerned about their privacy or who fear a data breach leaving information exosed to hackers, then they may be tempted for think twice about purchasing a smart device or, at the very least, reviewing and blocking as many data sharing features as they can access.
More about Data, Spying, Spooks, Information, secret state
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