smart vs. spy

Back in the day I read Mad magazine. And Spy vs. Spy was a regular favorite strip. While that dynamic continues in the world, we have a different type of conflict starting to play out everywhere from the bedroom to the central park. “Smart” homes, buildings, and cities are all the rage, and organizations and families are adding more networked capabilities to their world. The reasoning is manifold – convenience, efficiency, security – the list goes on. But another lens is that all these devices are essentially spying on you. And while spying is perhaps considered necessary for security, at what point does it become oppressive? Well, we’re doing the experiment.

We recently bough a house located 150 miles from where we currently live. It will be where we spend some weekends and eventually retire to. Beyond locking doors, how can I make sure the house is ok (i.e. no one breaking in, no fire or flood, etc)? Well, there are traditional security companies that I could pay a monthly fee for their technology, monitoring, and presumably, peace of mind. But the IoT revolution is about taking what were previously enterprise capabilities and putting them into the hands of individuals. In my case, that will be a Wyze camera and smart outlet. The camera is network enabled and I can monitor from my smart phone, while the outlet can be controlled remotely, and programmed to somewhat randomly turn on and off, simulating someone being home. A high-tech version of one of these:

Intermatic timer – analog technology!

Now those of you who follow the news may be questioning the choice of Wyze as they recently had a data breach. Well, I figure just like the safest time to fly is after a plane crash (due to increased vigilance), the same goes for data security – assuming the company takes things seriously.

I’ll report back on the experiment, but in my case I certainly am doing willful surveillance. But within a narrow set of parameters and purposes. For instance the camera will be air-gapped when we’re in the house. But even then the data is in “the cloud” and one never quite knows where it could end up. Part of a broader discussion as our homes and cities get “smarter.”

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