The Downside of the Internet of Things: They Tell on You

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We sometimes love the idea of having all of our stuff connected to the Internet. Oh, you left the lights on right before a long trip? Pull out your phone and switch them off. Magic! But Sarah Perez at ReadWriteWeb reports on the darker possibilities of the Internet of things, namely, that if you can talk to your stuff, your stuff can blab to other people, too.

The implications of these data-collecting, tattletaling objects and their use by government cannot be overlooked. It begins with spying on your trash, but what's next? Parking meters that know you snagged a few extra minutes because no one was around to write a ticket? Oh wait, that already exists. Vibration sensors that report when illegals cross the border? Hmm, that was done too. Biometric passports? We're already there. Digital billboards that can be used for surveillance? Yikes. Trees that report back when poached? Done. A plan to coat the planet in billions of sensors that can monitor traffic, analyze climate change, oh, and recognize people, too? In progress.

By themselves, none of these current use-cases alone are a major affront to personal freedom (in this author's opinion, that is). But there are many privacy advocates out there who find measures like these egregious violations of of our civil liberties.

Read the full story at ReadWriteWeb.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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