In the early post-Cold War era, anti-Communist crusaders were often accused of being hysterical, seeing Communists under their beds. Now a report from Christopher Balding and Joe Wu, researchers at New Kite Data Labs, sees the Chinese Communist Party inside coffee makers in American homes. And they are not crazy.
This alarming report is a consequence of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which ordinary appliances are given smart applications to interact with each other, as well as to report on performance and consumer behavior. According to Balding, interviewed by The Washington Times, Chinese-made coffee makers gather and report information about customers’ names, their locations, usage patterns and other information. In hotels, a coffee maker could report to China types of payments and routing information.
Similar issues have been found with vacuum cleaners that respond to voice commands, baby monitors and video doorbells.
The Chinese government has famously built a “panopticon,” a ubiquitous surveillance network that seamlessly integrates facial recognition, social media activities, payments, and other data to potentially track every citizen of that country. IoT, by design but mostly by technological evolution, is rapidly scaling the capacity to bring universal surveillance into the homes of the world.