Are There Privacy Concerns In The Home Of The Future?

from the maybe...-maybe-not dept

South Korea is known for its widespread adoption of broadband and wireless technologies. Many tech companies in the US like to use South Korea as a testbed, since they believe the US is likely to follow a similar path to South Korea rather than some place like Japan. Now, Michael Kanellos is taking a look at the South Korean effort to make the "connected home of the future" available today. It includes plenty of connected appliances, screens everywhere, RFID chips that monitor things and even a well connected car. The bathroom contains a connected health monitor (want to send your latest data to the doctor?) and flat screens so you can read the latest news. Kanellos is worried about the privacy implications of all of this - but doesn't seem to indicate what they are. Folks in South Korea don't seem all that worried - they just want the technology to be available sooner (and for less money). In fact, it's not entirely clear from the article what the privacy implications really are. There's some vague talk about RFID (which seems to have become universally associated with "privacy risk" for no clear reason) and some worries about hackers accessing your grocery bill. Of course, for those who already shop online there are the same risks. Really, all this is doing is putting more data online - which is always a risk - but it's a choice that people can make in exchange for the benefits of the features in such a system. If anything, hopefully trends like this will spur better security and data protection techniques. However, immediately tossing out the house of the future as a privacy risk, without explaining where the real risk is, doesn't make much sense.
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  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 13 May 2004 @ 10:30am

    The real risk

    The real risk as I percieve it (aside from the potential for abuse that occurs anytime you give information about yourself to anyone) is the potential for hidden reporting. How can the consumer be sure that the devices aren't contacting their manufacturer/doctor/insurance company/cops/whoever behind his back? It's impossible to know for sure without constantly sniffing all the data lines.

    This is not a problem with a technological solution. It's a social and legal problem. I think it could be resolved easily by enacting a set of strong and clear laws regarding who owns the information in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2004 @ 12:18pm

      Re: The real risk

      Absolutely.

      Imagine Spyware installed in your toilet. And then getting banner ads for high-fibre products on your bathroom flatscreen monitors... and that's a "good use", as perceived by marketers.

      A techie friend and I talked about this years ago - he said: what if your furnace had an IP address, and you could set your temperature and check it before you went home? And I responded that I'd spend my time hacking his system so I could set his furnace as high as possible so it was always too hot when he got home... Not that things like that would happen often, but is it really worth it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        AMetamorphosis, 13 May 2004 @ 12:38pm

        Re: The real risk


        gee, I have a 30 dollar programmable thermostat that doesn't have an IP and I can set it now to have the house be any temperature I want it to be based on planning ahead.

        having the ability & the need are two different things. I just wasted 20 minutes with a dude on the phone trying to explain to him the difference between typing an address in the browser & typing it into a search engine. When I finanally inquired what his goal of signing into his account online today was I was told: " oh, I just wanted to see what it looked like "

        Has anyone inquired with the consumers on just what we might find useful or are we assumed to be too stupid to know what features we want ?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          thecaptain, 14 May 2004 @ 5:35am

          Re: The real risk

          Since when is stuff like this about customers (to these people)?

          Companies (read marketers) see us are big huge sheep-like wallets and have no concern about what WE want. Its about what they can control to get us to turn money over to them more efficiently.

          If they could spy on our every move 24/7 to determine how to sell their crap with 99.9999% accuracy, that's a valid and ethical goal to them.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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