IoT Could Be Used To Spy, Admits James Clapper

IoT Could Be Used To Spy, Admits James Clapper

The latest high profile individual to debunk the notion that surveillance is at risk of ‘going dark’ in an age of increasingly robust encryption is none other than James Clapper, U.S. director of national intelligence himself. Clapper was submitting evidence to the US Senate as part of an assessment of threats faced when he made specific comments predicting that surveillance capabilities could, in future, be expanded by intelligence agencies tapping into the Internet of Things to monitor and identify suspects via the connected devices they are being increasingly surrounded with. It’s notable as the IoT has generally been ignored in the public rhetoric of the security services up to now. Instead they’ve been far more keen to talk about how tech companies’ use of strong encryption is raining on their mass surveillance parade. “In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials,” Clapper is reported to have said (via The Guardian ). His comments follow a Harvard study published earlier this month — also involving input from standing U.S. counterterrorism officials — which argued that the rise of connected devices presents massive opportunities for surveillance, bolstered by technology companies having business models that rely on data-mining their own users (thereby providing an incentive for them not to robustly encrypt IoT data). This is especially interesting given a recent Pew study of Americans’ attitudes to privacy, which found plenty of variation in how people in the US think about privacy and the trade-offs they are willing to make to obtain a convenient tech service. But the study flagged up that the scenario of most concern to respondents focused on smart home-style technologies that threaten to impinge on domestic privacy. […]