On Security

The Surveillance Operative Lurking in the Living Room

Ben West
Global Security Analyst, Stratfor
Nov 30, 2017 | 08:00 GMT
Digital home assistants already have brought microphones into as many rooms of our houses as we're willing to allow. Now many of them come equipped with cameras, too.

The underlying threats that digital home assistants present are nothing new, but the 24/7 microphone and video access the gadgets offer do amplify them.

(Petmal, Zapp2Photo/iStock)

The holiday shopping season is here once again. And this year, surveillance and espionage products have made it to the top of a surprising number of wishlists in the guise of digital home assistants. The devices already have brought microphones into as many rooms of our houses as we're willing to let them. Now many of them come equipped with cameras, too. Despite concerns about the threat to privacy that earlier generations have posed -- one product from Amazon's Alexa line carried the unfortunate name of Dox -- enhanced video capability appears to be the next big thing in digital home assistants. In the grand scheme of things, the jump from audio to video is a marginal advancement in the gadgets' ability to collect information. But for those thinking about following the products to their next frontier, this is a good opportunity to explore the relationship between service and surveillance...

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