Smart Meters, the internet of things, and surveillance

Surveillance meets 1984

CIA Director David Petraeus on the “internet of things” at In-Q-Tel summit, April 2012:

“‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus enthused, “particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”
Reported in

 The Washington Post included Smart Meters in this chart on NSA surveillance —

New cellular phone technologies (University of Texas, 2012), and conceivably Smart Meters as well, will be able to see through walls. This is the field of “remote sensing”. University of Illinois professor and Bioelectromagnetics Editor James Lin has demonstrated that the Soviet microwaving of the Moscow Embassy between 1953 and 1976 could have been for testing just such remote sensing capability. Much research has been done since then on remote sensing applications, including for medical purposes, including

 — “Behind thick layers of nonconductive walls”, “up to 30 meters”
Microwave sensing of physiological movement and volume change: a review, James Lin, 1992

— Under sponsorship of the U.S. Army, researchers used 850 MHz and 2.4 GHz microwave frequencies to monitor respiration and heart rate at a distance.
Note: electric Smart Meter frequencies are 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz.
A Digital Signal Processor For Doppler Radar Sensing Of Vital Signs, Lohman et al.,2001.

New devices, such as “baby radar” (University College Cork, Ireland, 2011), and other medical applications are being reported in the media frequently.

NBC News, “The Wi-Fi in your home can track your moves like Xbox Kinect”

A team at the University of Washington has rigged a standard Wi-Fi home network > to detect your movements anywhere in the home and convert them into commands to control connected devices ..The system is also capable of tracking people as they wander through rooms or out of the house, turning off lights or adjusting music volume depending on their location.

“Wi-Fi can give us all Superman-like vision, according to boffins at MIT”

Can Wi-Fi let you see people through walls?

It isn’t exactly Superman-like X-ray vision, but cheap, low-power Wi-Fi technology is gaining more attention as a remote sensing tool.

Do you really wish you had X-ray vision? Sure, it would be fun to see what your neighbors are doing behind those walls — until you see something you wish you hadn’t.

Regardless, researchers at MIT have developed a sensing technology that uses low-power Wi-Fi to detect moving people. It follows other wall-penetrating sensor tech using radar and heavy equipment.

…The Wi-Vi system by Dina Katabi and Fadel Adib sends out a low-power Wi-Fi signal and tracks its reflections to sense people moving around, even if they’re in closed rooms or behind

…Or the NSA could use it to see how badly you dance in front of your mirror.
Reported at

The Home Area Network and Smart Meter mesh network are Wi-Fi systems.

New Samsung LED HDTVs

“will now include built-in, internally wired HD cameras, face tracking and speech recognition capabilities, and twin microphones. In the 2012 8000-series plasmas, the cameras and microphones are built directly into the screen bezel. The 7500 – 8000ES-series TV’s, however, will have the cameras permanently attached to the top of the set.”

In 1999:

“You have zero privacy anyway,” Scott McNealy told a group of reporters and analysts Monday night at an event to launch his company’s new Jini technology.

“Get over it.”

 McNealy’s comments came only hours after competitor Intel (INTC) reversed course under pressure and disabled identification features in its forthcoming Pentium III chip.

… Sun Microsystems is a member of the Online Privacy Alliance, an industry coalition that seeks to head off government regulation of online consumer privacy in favor of an industry self-regulation approach.

 … McNealy made the remarks in response to a question about what privacy safeguards Sun (SUNW) would be considering for Jini. The technology is designed to allow various consumer devices to communicate and share processing resources with one another.

 “I think Scott’s comments were completely irresponsible and that Sun and Intel and many of these leaders are creating public policy every time they make a product decision,” said Lori Fena, chairman of the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Sun on Privacy: ‘Get Over It’, Polly Sprenger, Jan. 26, 1999


In 2009, McNealy’s assessment was confirmed by Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt. In an interview with NBC’s Mario Bartiromo, he proclaimed, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Schmidt’s words have become Google’s new mantra. Welcome to 21st-century corporate morality….

In 2010 it was revealed that Google partnered with the CIA in a venture called “Recorded Future.” Google’s vast data archive can be harnessed to meet “security” needs. This is especially troubling in light of a controversial bill being pushed through Congress, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The act would allow sharing of data between companies like Google and the National Security Agency (NSA) to combat alleged cyber-security threats.
The Terrifying Ways Google Is Destroying Your Privacy, David Rosen, May 20, 2012

Journalist James Bamford talked to Democracy Now on March 21, 2012 about the new facility being constructed in Bluffdale, Utah, by the National Security Agency to store collected data.

There will certainly be a great deal of it.


This and additional information on privacy and surveillance are on pages 19-27,

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