A new book by Jonathan Zittrain[1. See more about Zittrain’s book here.] about the future of the Internet packs many thought-provoking points that I will share in a later post, but for now I just want to pass on what for me was a revelation about the technology around us.
This is not intended to unduly alarm anyone, but it probably is good to know: A law enforcement agency with a court order easily could have your cell phone converted into a listening device without your knowledge. A listening device as in a bug that would pick up any conversation in its range – not just what is spoken directly into the phone. And it will work even when the phone is off. All it takes is for your service provider to send commands to your phone. It could be done remotely while you sleep.
Do you have OnStar or a similar service in your vehicle? Same deal.
And you know those updates that Microsoft Windows and your antivirus software regularly push down to your home computer? The same channel used for those updates could be commandeered – with relative ease – to turn your PC into a surveillance device…
Zittrain notes that such surveillance has been used by good guys to bust bad guys, and we’re all glad for that. But good guys sometimes go bad, and in that event these ubiquitous devices could become props in an Orwellian nightmare.