Not Known At This Address

A little while ago, Reader Sam D. had this thought about Amazon’s Alexa:

“Why would anyone WANT his own personal Stasi agent in his home, AND be paying for it?”

Indeed.  Somebody remind me again why I’m not wired into the Internet Of Things:

If you’re a Google user, you probably noticed some trouble last night when trying to access Google-owned services. Last night, Google reported several issues with its Cloud Platform, which made several Google sites slow or inoperable. Because of this, many of Google’s sites and services–including Gmail, G Suite, and YouTube–were slow or completely down for users in the U.S. and Europe.
However, the Google Cloud outage also affected third-party apps and services that use Google Cloud space for hosting. Affected third-party apps and services include Discord, Snapchat, and even Apple’s iCloud services.
But an especially annoying side effect of Google Cloud’s downtime was that Nest-branded smart home products for some users just failed to work. According to reports from Twitter, many people were unable to use their Nest thermostats, Nest smart locks, and Nest cameras during the downtime. This essentially meant that because of a cloud storage outage, people were prevented from getting inside their homes, using their AC, and monitoring their babies.

Don’t think you can escape this bullshit by jumping in your car and getting out of town, either:

Governments are collecting lots of data on the people using roads, trains and buses, and without proper oversight, that information could easily be misused.

(I’ve often wondered, by the way, if my movements are being studied by way of my phone location software.  As I drive for Uber, I bet it’s interesting reading:  “He goes to the airport three or four times a day and never seems to drive back… WTF?”)  And speaking of which:

I wonder why they bother to warn us anymore.

And then there’s this:

Sleep Number, one company that makes beds that can track heart rate, respiration and movement, said it collects more than 8 billion biometric data points every night, gathered each second and sent via an app through the internet to the company’s servers.
“This gives us the intelligence to be able to continue to feed our algorithms,” CEO Shelly Ibach told attendees at a Fortune Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego last month.
Analyzing all that personal data, Ibach continued, not only helps consumers learn more about their health, but also aids the company’s efforts to make a better product.
Still, consumer privacy advocates are increasingly raising concerns about the fate of personal health information — which is potentially valuable to companies that collect and sell it — gathered through a growing number of internet-connected devices.

What I’d like to do is hack into this system, and publish a Wanking Hard Incidence Ranking Report (WHIRR!) for every member of Congress.

Maybe then someone  would take this loss of privacy thing seriously.


  1. My Caddy ATS-V came with OnStar. At the end of the first week, I received an e-mail report stating I had made 37 rapid accelerations and 8 hard brakings. The driver side rear tire would need air soon and if I didn’t stop abusing myself, I risked developing Carpal Tunnel issues.

  2. It’s go so that when I ring up anyone and they announce that this call is being recorded, I say, switch that off or we’re not talking. (They don’t, I hang up).
    I do the same when they ring me, I have managed to piss off a lot of Insurance companies and other blood suckers. A blow for freedom!

    1. Ah, just tell them that that’s OK, you’re recording the call, too, and see what happens.

  3. People with Nests could still walk over to the thermostat and adjust the temperature the old-fashioned way; it’s not as if they were forced to live in 60 or 90 degree weather.

    That doesn’t mean giving Google free information is smart.

  4. A while back, I was talking to two guys at work. We discussed a new gadget that someone else had mentioned in passing. After a few minutes, one of the guys turned on his phone to look something else up (not related) on line.

    The top ad on the web page was for the gadget we had been talking about. Which was an odd, new thing that he had never even heard about before it came up that day.

    So yeah, even the phones are listening to conversations, just to serve up more ads.

  5. The takeover has been mostly voluntary, no storm troopers or cattle cars necessary. Gullible idiots, easily entertained, ripe for culling.

  6. Yes, your phone does watch over you and reports that information back to your carrier. Used to be when someone asked me why I insist on carrying a basic, no-frills flip phone, I told them about the numerous incidents where vendors or manufacturers were caught using data surreptitiously gathered from so-called “smart” phones. Almost without exception I was told, “Well, I don’t have anything to hide.”

    I don’t bother to explain any more. People do not really care. For most, privacy seems to be a buzzword rather than a vital concept they have internalized. For whatever reasons, many (maybe most) people will choose to sacrifice privacy in exchange for whatever benefits they perceive they are getting from their smart phone.

    Now I just tell them is none of their (fucking) business. I’m a curmudgeon and, if need be, an asshole.

    1. I also have the old flip phone and I never answer if I don’t know the number. I’m not a phone person and it’s easy. Here, at my office, all my communication is on the internet and when I leave the office, I’m off the grid, at my warehouse shop, sometimes for three or four days at a stretch. No Internet or cable there. It’s refreshing and gives me some perspective.

  7. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with IoT stuff, so long as you educate yourself and take reasonable precautions with sensitive data, there most certainly is a big problem from a business standpoint of relying on large “cloud” services. Be they run by Google, Amazon, IBM or what have you– they can and will break, and if you rely on them to not break, surprise! there’s no SLA, and nobody meaningful to address the outage with.

    Not that long ago I was nearly laughed out of a meeting when I suggested that ditching company-owned infrastructure and relying on AWS-style cloud computing was perhaps not the best idea in the world. Then AWS went down. Then the company in question got my bill.

    He who laughs last…

  8. As Data Analyst by trade, I don’t worry too much for the moment, because the data quality and accuracy is just not there YET…. But it is certainly coming. Some University Alumni Associations already know more about you than you do. ( I can’t tell you how I know ). Health care / Insurance / Medical / Pharma conglomerates are making rapid progress, now that they have finally separated Doctors from their hand written charts. ( worked in that sphere as well ) …… and what Google / Amazon knows is truly frightening.

    The only good news is that Big Government is hopelessly behind and will only improve if they can change the very culture of their operations ( Somewhat unlikely in the near term on any large scale) but when that day comes, you can expect “SkyNet” times ten.

    1. In case you haven”t noticed, our Fascist overlords would prefer to use “private” companies because (like Salesforce) they aren’t tied down by those pesky 1st, 4th, 5th Amendments. If some “anonymous tipster” at Salesforce wants to turn over all their PoS data from firearms retailers in NY, CT, CA, etc., they can. The cops can literally treat it as though they found it in the road and use it on that basis, too. And all those noncompliers will get a knock on the door.

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