(Brandon Turbeville) Back in April, I wrote an article entitled, “CIA Home Invasion: Smart TVs and the ‘Internet of Things,’” where I detailed the roll-out of the then-new Samsung LED HD Smart Tvs and the inherent dangers that lay therein.
At the time, the dangers related to the televisions were the fact that these new TV sets came fitted with their own built-in cameras and microphones, thus making the potential for remote spying intensely more acute.
Coupled with a virtually simultaneous announcement by then-CIA Director David Petraeus that, due to the increase in the amount of household gadgets which are capable of being controlled by apps, the CIA would soon be able to read these devices via the Internet or radio waves outside of the home, the release of television sets with built-in cameras and microphones, some of which are attached to the Samsung cloud, should have been a cause for much alarm.
Unfortunately, the new Big Brother TVs were not met with serious skepticism nor did they even draw significant ire of privacy proponents. After all, what would the CIA or a corporation gain by watching you in your living room? Why would the government want to see you sinking lower into the couch? They have much more important things to do, right?
Aside from the obvious implications regarding the destruction of basic privacy or even the open desire held by governments and intelligence agencies to actually build a Total Information Awareness Network, one would find it difficult to find a manner in which cameras and microphones attached to one’s television would make the viewing experience any better.
Nevertheless, as I have stated in many other articles relating to the erosion of privacy under the guise of greater convenience, it seems that any level of perceived expediency is enough to justify the shredding of anonymity in the minds of the general public.
Unfortunately, as the little bit of privacy that still exists continues to be auctioned off forentertainment and ease, it seems the remaining shreds of personal secrecy are fetching a still lower price even now as they are growing more and more scarce.
This is because, even though the average member of the public is willing to trade the most basic freedoms for the most infantile reasons, the entertainment they are now receiving in return has itself been devalued to the point where it is virtually nonexistent.
Take, for instance, the perceived benefit of buying a television with an embedded camera and microphone. How a company would be able to “personalize the experience” for individual users was always somewhat unclear. However, it sounded like it would be an improvement, so masses of people flocked to the new technology out of basic snob appeal, as well as an unwavering desire for more and more luxurious entertainment.
Yet, in an ironic twist of fate, the technology that was allegedly developed to improve the television watching experience is threatening to encroach upon it.
Although not directly part of the new Samsung TV sets; the Xbox Kinect cameras, a similar technology, are now being pushed by Microsoft to act as policemen for copyright fascists and major movie firms.
Indeed, according to a recent report by Mic Wright of The Telegraph, if Microsoft’s latest patent application is approved, the Kinect camera will be turned “into a snitch for movie studios, reporting back just how many friends you’ve got in your living room and what they’re watching.”
For those who might be under the impression that the above description of the patent proposal is too far-fetched, the proposed patent actually reads, “The users consuming the content on a display device are monitored so that if the number of user-views licensed is exceeded, remedial action may be taken.”
Wright states, “If put into practice, Microsoft’s plan could mean that the film you’re watching suddenly stops playing if it detects that you’ve got more people squashed on the sofa than the licence allows. You’d then be prompted to buy a more expensive licence to keep watching.”
“It’s that blatant,” writes Wright, “a system to spy on private viewing habits.”
Of course, those of us who first read of the Samsung Smart TVs mentioned earlier in this article already knew that the embedding of cameras and microphones was a Big Brother surveillance system. Apparently, the fact that governments, corporations, and intelligence agencies are openly stating a desire to monitor each and every person in the world — complete with the installation of Orwell’s famous interactive TV sets — is not a concern. What is a concern, however, is that one will be charged for the television experiences one previously was able to enjoy for free.
Recognizing the obvious parallels himself, Wright continues by saying, “It’s as if Big Brother had built 1984’s Telescreen not to monitor the population but to ensure no one was pirating the Two Minutes of Hate.”
Unfortunately, Wright’s analogy is backwards. In reality, it’s as if Big Brother had built 1984’s Telescreen to monitor ever single member of the population and decided to charge them extra for the pleasure.