how Smart Devices are spying on you everywhere?

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Do you ever felt how Smart Devices are spying on you? Ever felt the creepy sensation that someone was watching you? Then, you look around and nothing is out of the ordinary

It all depends on where you are, but you may not have been fully imagining it. Every day, billions of things sense you. They are all around you, hidden in plain view – inside your car, TV, fridge, and office. They know more about you than you could imagine and most of them can communicate this information via the internet.

It would have been difficult to imagine what a revolution in useful apps and services smartphones could bring about in 2007. They came at a price in terms of intrusiveness and loss of privacy.

We are computer scientists and we study privacy and data management. With internet connectivity extending to devices in homes, offices, and cities, privacy can be in greater danger than ever.

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Internet of Things

Your home, appliances, and car are designed to simplify your life and automate daily tasks. They can turn lights on and off when entering and leaving a room, warn you that tomatoes are getting bad, and adjust the temperature to suit the weather and preferences.

They need the internet to connect with other people and find data that correlates. Your smart thermostat may be able to collect data about you but not the weather forecast. It isn’t strong enough to process all the information and make decisions.

It’s not only your home that is communicating via the internet. Smart devices are becoming more sophisticated in cities, workplaces, and malls.

The Internet of Things (IoT), which is widely used in transportation and logistics, agriculture, farming and industry automation, is actually already widespread. In 2018, there were 22 billion connected devices around the globe. This number is expected to rise to more than 50 billion by 2030.

These are the things you need to know about yourself

Smart devices can collect many types of data about their users. Smart security cameras or smart assistants are cameras and microphones that can be installed in your home to collect audio and video information about you and your activities.

Things like smart TVs and smart lightbulbs monitor your heart rate and sleep and smart vacuum cleaners map every inch of your home to identify objects and mark them are some examples of the more obscure side of the spectrum.

Sometimes this surveillance is advertised as a feature. Some Wi-Fi routers, for example, can gather information about the location of users and coordinate with other smart devices to detect motion.

Manufacturers often promise that only automated decision-making machines and not humans will see your data. This is not always true. Amazon workers can listen to conversations with Alexa and then transcribe and annotate them before they are fed into automated decision-making software.

Unseen consequences can result from limiting personal data access to automated decision-making systems. Any private data shared via the internet can be exposed to hackers around the globe, and very few internet-connected consumer devices are highly secure.

Know your vulnerabilities

Some devices, such as smart speakers and cameras, can be turned off occasionally for privacy. Disconnecting devices from the internet can limit their functionality, even if this is an option.

This is also true if you are in smart cities, malls, or workspaces.

As a user, it’s important to understand the trade-offs between privacy, comfort, and convenience when purchasing, installing and using an internet-connected device.

It is not always simple. It is not always easy. Studies have shown, for instance, that smart home personal assistant owners have a limited understanding of what data they collect, where it is stored, and who has access to it.

All over the globe, governments have passed laws that protect the privacy and allow people to exercise more control over their data. The European General Data Protection Regulation and California Consumer Privacy Act are two examples.

This allows you to send a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR), to any organization that collects data from your internet-connected device. Within a month, organizations must respond to any requests from those jurisdictions. They must explain what data was collected, how it was used within the organization, and whether it has been shared with third parties.

Limit privacy damage

While regulations are an important step, it is likely that their enforcement will take some time to catch up to the increasing number of internet-connected devices. There are ways you can still take advantage of some internet-connected benefits without giving out too much personal data.

You can take steps to protect your smart device and reduce privacy risks.

The Federal Trade Commission has suggestions for how to protect your internet-connected devices. It is important to update the device’s firmware on a regular basis, go through the settings, and disable any data collection that does not relate to the purpose of the device. To ensure private and safe internet use, the Online Trust Alliance offers additional tips.

You can find out the data the device collects from you and the manufacturer’s data management policies through independent sources like Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included. This information will allow you to choose the version of your smart device that you prefer from a manufacturer who respects the privacy of its users.

Last but not the least, take a moment to consider whether all your devices are necessary for you to be smart. To take an example, would you be willing to share information about yourself in order to command your coffee maker to make you a coffee?

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