This post originally appeared at Brennan Center For Justice.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you about this one: your “smart” TV may be spying on you. Really.
According to classified documents leaked this week, the CIA found a way to hack the microphone on televisions equipped with voice control and send the audio back to headquarters. It can even record in “fake-off” mode — when the TV looks like it’s off but isn’t, according to notes on project “Weeping Angel.”
See, this is why we can’t have nice things.
That news was bad enough, creating a big privacy problem thanks to the so-called “third-party doctrine,” a legal artifact of the pre-internet age. It basically means you don’t have any privacy in the data you send through third parties like Google or Apple — or Samsung. We’re looking at you too, Amazon Echo.
Now, it appears the CIA has found a way to exploit this vulnerability directly. And it’s a safe bet they’re not the only ones.
To be clear, there is a big difference between tapping a phone line, bugging a hotel room and breaking the internet — or in this case, the Internet of Things. And sometimes a cliché is worth repeating: this may be a means to an end, but it’s a hell of a means.
(Pro tip: You don’t have to connect your smart TV to the internet.)
We now return you to our previously scheduled programing: “I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing On — And You’d Be, Too.” Next Up: George Orwell’s acclaimed book 1984. Stay tuned.