The Whole POINT of the Internet of Things Is So Big Brother Can Spy On You

George Washington's picture

No One Wants the Internet of Things ...

No one wants the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Washington Post noted in 2014:

No one really wants a “smart” washing machine ....




If you're wondering who would want to buy an Internet-enabled washing machine, you're not alone. Even Whirlpool's not so sure.


"We’re a little bit of a hammer looking for a nail right now," Chris Quatrochi, Whirlpool's global director of user experience and connectivity, said last week at a conference  hosted by tech blog Gigaom. The buyers of web-connected washers, more than a year after launch, are still "not at all widespread," he said. "Trying to understand exactly the value proposition that you provide to the consumer," he said, "has been a little bit of a challenge."


It's a big concession from one of the most notable champions of the buzzy "Internet of Things" ....


As Digital Trends blogger John Sciacca put it: "Have we gotten so pathetically lame that you need to be notified by an email that your laundry is done?"

Wired jokes:

Now it seems every kind of thing from dishwashers to doorknobs require an Internet connection, since after all, we all know our dishwashers have long harbored a pent up desire for scintillating conversation with our doorknobs.

(Side note:  Several scientists say that the Same Frequencies Used for Pain-Inflicting Crowd Control Weapons May Be the Basis of the IoT Network.)

... Except Big Brother

The government is already spying on us through spying on us through our computers, phones, cars, buses, streetlights, at airports and on the street, via mobile scanners and drones, through our credit cards and smart meters (see this), television, doll, and in many other ways.

The CIA wants to spy on you through your dishwasher and other “smart” appliances. Slate reported in 2012:

Watch out: the CIA may soon be spying on you—through your beloved, intelligent household appliances, according to Wired.


In early March, at a meeting for the CIA’s venture capital firm In-Q-Tel, CIA Director David Petraeus reportedly noted that “smart appliances” connected to the Internet could someday be used by the CIA to track individuals. If your grocery-list-generating refrigerator knows when you’re home, the CIA could, too, by using geo-location data from your wired appliances, according to SmartPlanet.


“The current ‘Internet of PCs’ will move, of course, toward an ‘Internet of Things’—of devices of all types—50 to 100 billion of which will be connected to the Internet by 2020,” Petraeus said in his speech. He continued:

Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters—all connected to the next-generation Internet using abundant, low cost, and high-power computing—the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.

Last year, U.S. Intelligence Boss James Clapper said that the government will spy on Americans through IoT:

In the future, intelligence services might use the [IoT] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.

Yves Smith commented at the time:

Oh, come on. The whole point of the IoT is spying. The officialdom is just trying to persuade you that it really is a big consumer benefit to be able to tell your oven to start heating up before you get home.

Wired comments:

Why do you think there are so many buckets of cash pouring into the IoT hope-to-be-a-market? The Big Corporations don’t expect to make a big profit on the devices themselves, oh no. News flash: the Big Money in IoT is in Big Data. As in, Big Data about everything those sensors are learning about you and your nasty habits that you hide from your neighbors.


The value of Big Data, after all, aren’t the data themselves. “Fred’s car told Fred’s thermostat to turn on Fred’s hot tub” doesn’t interest anybody but Fred and perhaps his hot date (if he’s lucky). The value in Big Data, you see, are in the patterns. What shows you watch. What apps you use. Which ads influence your buying behavior. The more IoT you have, the more Big Data they collect, and the more Big Data they collect, the more they know about how you behave. And once they know how you behave, they know how to control how you behave.

The Guardian notes:

As a category, the internet of things is useful to eavesdroppers both official and unofficial for a variety of reasons, the main one being the leakiness of the data.




There are a wide variety of devices that can be used to listen in, and some compound devices (like cars) that have enough hardware to form a very effective surveillance suite all by themselves.




There’s no getting around the fundamental creepiness of the little pinhole cameras in new smart TVs (and Xbox Kinects, and laptops, and cellphones), but the less-remarked-on aspect – the audio – may actually be more pertinent to anyone with a warrant trying to listen in. Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society observed that Samsung’s voice recognition software in its smart TVs had to routinely send various commands “home” to a server where they were processed for relevant information; their microphones are also always on, in case you’re trying to talk to them. Televisions are also much easier to turn on than they used to be: a feature creeping into higher-end TVs called “wake on LAN” allows users to power on televisions over the internet (this is already standard on many desktop PCs).




A cyberattack on toymaker VTech exposed the personal data of 6.4m children last year; it was a sobering reminder of the vulnerability of kids on the web. But technology waits for no man. Mattel’s Hello Barbie doll works the same way the Nest and Samsung voice operators do, by passing kids’ interactions into the cloud and returning verbal responses through a speaker in the doll. HereO manufactures a watch for kids with a GPS chip in it; Fisher-Price makes a WiFi-enabled stuffed animal. Security researchers at Rapid7 looked at both and found that they were easy to compromise on company databases, and in the case of the watch, use to locate the wearer.

In a separate article, the Guardian pointed out:

Just a few weeks ago, a security researcher found that Google’s Nest thermostats were leaking users’ zipcodes over the internet. There’s even an entire search engine for the internet of things called Shodan that allows users to easily search for unsecured webcams that are broadcasting from inside people’s houses without their knowledge.


While people voluntarily use all these devices, the chances are close to zero that they fully understand that a lot of their data is being sent back to various companies to be stored on servers that can either be accessed by governments or hackers.




Author and persistent Silicon Valley critic Evgeny Morozov summed up the entire problem with the internet of things and “smart” technology in a tweet last week:


In case you are wondering what "smart" - as in "smart city" or "smart home" - means:



(And see Amazon Echo and the internet of things that spy on you.)

In the wake of the CIA leaks showing that the agency can remotely turn on our tvs and spy on us using a "fake off" mode so that it looks like the power is off, Tech Dirt wrote in an article called CIA Leaks Unsurprisingly Show The Internet Of Broken Things Is A Spy's Best Friend:

The security and privacy standards surrounding the internet of (broken) things sit somewhere between high comedy and dogshit.

As security expert Bruce Schneier points out, the entire concept of the IoT is wildly insecure and vulnerable to hacking.  Indeed, IoT is so insecure that it allowed a massive internet outage.

The highest-level NSA whistleblower in history (William Binney) - the NSA executive who created the agency’s mass surveillance program for digital information, 36-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, who served as the senior technical director within the agency, and managed thousands of NSA employees – reviewed an earlier version of this post, and told Washington’s Blog:

Yep, that summarizes it fairly well. It does not deal with industry or how they will use the data; but, that will probably be an extension of what they do now. This whole idea of monitoring electronic devices is objectionable.


If forced to buy that stuff, I will do my best to disconnect these monitoring devices also look for equipment on the market that is not connected in any way.

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lakecity55's picture

There's too much spyin' goin' on.


silverer's picture

I'll just keep rebuilding my old clickity-clack stuff, thanks.

Sanity Bear's picture

With them tracking all my data, I'm afraid that the government will know exactly when I'm on the toilet taking a dump by reading the logs to see when I am reading RotoWorld on my mobile.

TMI, I know, but that is my actual taking-a-shit routine, and the only times I ever look at that site.

Control THAT behavior, bitches.

TeethVillage88s's picture

Dear President Trump;

Shalom. Peace be un to you. The King is Dead, Long Live the King.

I note that you have some time on your hands with the dust-up in Congress, Paul Ryan going Rogue, Health Care being perverted, Cabinet Picks being derailed, Immigrant Vetting & Restrictions back-seated. Please consider US Individual Rights & Privacy.

The public is concerned with revelations of DNI Klapper lying to congress about NSA Spying on Americans and CIA Tools and designs of computer and telecommunications devices... appliances. Your attention should be called to the US Constitution, Amendment 3.

- Right to freedom from quartering of govt in our house without our consent***

I would urge you to open an investigation or send a case to the Supreme Court regarding over-reach, and Tyranny by our Paramilitary or Intelligence Agencies

***- Right to freedom from quartering of govt in our house without our consent (NSC, FBI, DOJ, Congress, Star Chamber, FISA Court, CIA, NSA, DHS, TSA,... are not allowed to reside or use iphones, smart phones, PCs, Mobile Devices, TVs, appliances, thermostats, or Refrigerators to spy on every American old Enough to carry a cell phone nor invade private companies in order to access our meta data or emails or GPS(like our kids, and don't GPS our Kids!))

Your Brother in Nationalism,

Shalom, Teethvillage

Goldennutz's picture

Alexa is one fucking expensive alarm clock.

atthelake's picture

Ask Alexa if she is connected to the CIA.

Squid Viscous's picture

Someone had a vision 40 years ago, must have been some great acid:

SanJoseMutza's picture

For those of us who have no interest in interconnected appliances, may become impossible to purchase a refrigerator, for example, that is not connected to the web. The spymasters and technocrats will force this stuff down our throats. We either buy connected devices, or we do without. 

One World Mafia's picture

Tell the salesman you want to be certain it's not IoT.  Enough people speak up and vote with their dollars and the response will either be to start selling goods without being wifi ready or to conceal its presence. I got a dishwasher before I realized it is wifi two years ago.

Curiously_Crazy's picture

Two words:  "Second hand"

My Fridge and washing machine as over 20 years old and still going strong. Tv about a decade, no intention to replace it.

When any appliance does shit itself I'll by a second hand one that will last another 30 odd years.. after that I'll be dead.

It's not as though people buy major appliances on a monthly basis.. there will always be options for the next half century at least to opt out of the new shit they are trying to sell us.

Sanity Bear's picture

Ever since they replaced the phosphates in detergents, dishwashers don't work like they should anyway. They never clean all the dishes and always leave chemical film on top of them - you can put a clean dish in and it will come out contaminated.

If you want clean dishes, you'll need to hand wash them.

AKKadian's picture

I'm waiting for them to put cameras at the bottom of toilets. That way we can all, well you know, do the onesy and twosy on them.!!! 

AKKadian's picture

I think every one gets it. And I think what the vast majority are saying with there comments. Screw you Big Dickhead Brother, sit on it and rotate Big Brother, and if you can't shove it far enough Big Brother, I got a sledge hammer to ram it home. I think that's what everyone is saying. Boom, may you're Big Brothers nuts get stuck in a vise.!!!

Andre's picture

In some ways it's even more devious, more subtle.

Books are much more rare these days. most people don't get prints of ANY of their pictures.

They don't need to burn books - thewy can delete them. They can destroy or remake your memories by altering pictures.

We are so close to a dark age.

aloha_snakbar's picture

I had a girlfriend who had a WiFi enabled dildo...

CRM114's picture

She should get it removed; I think that's called a strapadictomy

Chandos's picture

I had a girlfriend who had a WiFi enabled dildo...


You've got male...



DuneCreature's picture

This is more than your refrigerator being turned into an Internet Thing.

They are turning YOU into a device they can control.

Live Hard, Look Up, Those Are Not Just Water Vapor Crystals Lingering Above Your Head, Die Free

~ DC v5.0

East Indian's picture

I have always wondered how bees turned into social insects. Soon we are going to find out. 

DuneCreature's picture

5G might just do it for them.

I am just in awe at how well planned out this all is.

Requiring astronomical amounts of money too.

Live Hard, 'They' Have Been Working On This For A Long, Long, Long Time, Die Free

~ DC v5.0

koan's picture

Version 5, I missed a few of your upgrades.

Grandad Grumps's picture

People are missing the point about who big brother is. It is a war to strip us of our God-given rights, capabilities and spirituality.

aloha_snakbar's picture

I stopped washing my clothes five years ago for this very reason...

aloha_snakbar's picture

"Rise of the Rinse Cycle"...

Lyman54's picture

I have never met anyone who has fridges or washers connected to the internet. It isn't exactly a selling point when looking for appliances.

Umh's picture

Yes. It can be so tempting to buy a programable widget. The widget refuses to work without being able to talk to its friends. I already have several devices in my house that love the IOT more than they should. If nothig else they can share their keys with Google.

Umh's picture

The IOTs and idiot are much closer together than you think.

TePikoElPozo's picture

TAILS linux live cd



doctor10's picture

whole concept only works if energy distribution remains centrally controlled.

Which is basically a 20th century holdover that will go away in the next 20 years

BobEore's picture

Sorry, not a system or platform out there that isn't already compromised by ...

the usual suspects. All your info belong to US? As in NSA??? Err, no, that's just a transit node on the info highway thing. All your info belong to Srael.

And for those - like George here - who are slowly catching on to the real "Dirty Lowdown" behind the "internet revoluton" smiley faced deception...this

"The goal of the Terror State - a term I apply to "The State" in general, but in specific iteration to those entities which are - or have fallen into the orbit of - the political expression of hegemonist power that is "Israel" ... is to gain complete mastery over subject populations via a menu of technologically driven programs which monitor every person's movements and communications.

Those who act outside of the boundaries of what that state dictates to be allowable behavior are now deemed "terrorists," which is a category for which the various forms of the Terror State are increasingly turning to extra-legal punishment. That's a rather dry phrase which probably means very little to just about anyone who reads it; which is a shame, because it represents a condition of permanent "terror" which is shortly due to arrival in the complacent and "secure" areas of the world where this sort of state directed violence against it's citizens is "inconceivable" - until it happens"

will be the inevitable result of the mass desocialization of society which the real purpose of the internet was always about. Connected to "information" - disconnected from content. And context. No news. All the time!

New_Meat's picture

aluminum foil as a gauss shield.  Waiting for that software powerhouse GE (you've seen the ads, with the snowflake who can't pick up the hammer) to put their refrigerators on an "annual license fee" schedule like MSFT.  Cars will be a tougher nut to crack.

Umh's picture

You really need to test any shielding. Come on, it is easy to see that if you can network through it so can "they" whoever the fuck "they" may be. Bottom line is test your stuff before getting smug or smoked for that matter.

techpriest's picture

As a programmer, I'd point out that IOT can be useful under certain circumstances, but for many of these devices, there is no use, and like so many trends, we're getting Internet-connected washing machines because some follower in a corporate office was riding a trend.

The cases where IOT *could be* useful is when you really do want to remote-access a certain device in your house, so you can check in on it. For example, if you're on a trip and forgot to set the thermostat. Of course, the issue is that you are opening up any such devices to outside spying and meddling.

IMO, long term I only see IOT being truly useful in a handful of niche cases. For example, if you convert a house into a B&B, you can give the "keys" to guests according to a certain schedule. Or, another super-niche case I'm thinking of is a set of robots that makes a product in your garage, people order online, and on your approval the robots get to work.

I don't think anyone is going to care about real-time data for their refrigerator, and they certainly wouldn't want GE having live access to turn their fridge on or off.

not dead yet's picture

Hate to disagree with you but there are plenty of people who will buy these connected devices and appliances. To these pathetic people it's an ego thing to be in control and to show others "look what I've got cuz I'm cooler than you."

CRM114's picture

..and, with an IoT fridge, EXACTLY how much cooler ;)

auricle's picture

IOT is a process for AI learning. It is the best effort yet at digitizing all forms of human activity.