Once the government perfects the use of a court order to order an electronic device manufacturer to gain access to an encrypted device, it is a very slippery slope until the encryption that protects your in-home smart television’s camera, microphone, and other sensors is also covered under the law.
How many people knew that the General Motors’ OnStar system was used to surreptitiously listen in to in-car and near-car conversations until the methodology was accidently revealed in a court case to suppress evidence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), realizing that the System can be used as a roving “bug” and following the procedures mandated for “bugging” private individuals suspected of criminal activity, sought and obtained a series of court orders requiring the Company to assist in intercepting conversations taking place in a car equipped with the System. The Company challenges the court’s authority to order the use of the Company’s equipment, facilities, system, and employees. The question for decision is whether the statute governing private parties’ obligations to assist the federal government in intercepting communications permits such an order.
<Source: The Company v. United States, 02-15635 (349 F.3d 1132; United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; Nov. 18, 2003) Notice that OnStar is identified only as “The Company” >
How “smart” is that television in your living room?
You can control your Smart TV, and use many of its features, with voice commands.
If you enable Voice Recognition, you can interact with your Smart TV using your voice. To provide you the Voice Recognition feature, some interactive voice commands may be transmitted (along with information about your device, including device identifiers) to a third-party service provider (currently, Nuance Communications, Inc.) that converts your interactive voice commands to text and to the extent necessary to provide the Voice Recognition features to you. In addition, Samsung may collect and your device may capture voice commands and associated texts so that we can provide you with Voice Recognition features and evaluate and improve the features. Samsung will collect your interactive voice commands only when you make a specific search request to the Smart TV by clicking the activation button either on the remote control or on your screen and speaking into the microphone on the remote control.
The camera situated on the SmartTV also enables you to authenticate your Samsung Account or to log into certain services using facial recognition technology. You can use facial recognition instead of, or as a supplementary security measure in addition to, manually inputting your password. Once you complete the steps required to set up facial recognition, an image of your face is stored locally on your TV; it is not transmitted to Samsung. While your image will be stored locally, Samsung may take note of the fact that you have set up the feature and collect information about when and how the feature is used so that we can evaluate the performance of this feature and improve it. <Source>
Samsung: Our smart TVs aren't eavesdropping on your conversations
Some systems can use additional sensors to capture gestures, evaluate voice inflections, and determine who is actually watching the television. All to ostensibly improve their services to you, never mentioning that this data stream can be sold to advertisers or the government for use with enhanced data- mining that can provide real-time dossiers in excess of anything imagined by George Orwell in his seminal novel, 1984. A data that has long passed.
The slippery slope and the government’s disingenuousness of claiming a narrow scope limited to one phone …
The federal government is fighting Apple for something the police want too
The federal court battle is being watched closely by police officials around the country who hope a finding in favor of the government could serve as a landmark victory that will set a precedent allowing broader law enforcement access to encrypted data.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has as many as 150 phones in evidence lockers that investigators can’t crack, Cahhal said. The LAPD has about 300, a captain said. In Sacramento, sheriff’s officials have nearly 90.
Officials said that before the FBI court order, they thought there was no way to access the information. Several California law enforcement agencies said they were told by Apple the company didn’t have the means to unlock phones.
The federal government has argued that the battle over whether Apple should help unlock the iPhone 5c belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook — one of the shooters in the attack on the Inland Regional Center — is limited to the one particular phone. But Cohn said the constant calls for access from local police agencies actually undercuts that argument and highlights the far-reaching privacy implications of the tilt between Apple and the FBI. “Law enforcement doesn’t just want this for terrorist cases,” she said. “They want it for every case.”
Apple echoed Cohn’s sentiments when it filed a motion this week to vacate the court order in the San Bernardino case, arguing, “This is not a case about one isolated iPhone.”
Police and prosecutors say some criminal investigations have hit a dead end when detectives are unable to access encrypted data.
Read more: The federal government is fighting Apple for something the police want too - LA Times
Bottom line …
One can easily imagine the government requesting a “secret court” similar to the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court to issue a demand for any electronic device maker to enable their system to spy on you and anyone else in the vicinity. That the government has engaged in unauthorized and unpunished transgressions is already known. And, considering the politicization of almost every government agency, the government is no longer benign and can no longer trusted without stronger congressional and judicial oversight. Including mandatory prison terms for any government official, appointee, employee, agent, contractor, or informant that uses protected electronic information for unauthorized personal, professional, political, or profit-making use.
The Clinton’s knew full well the extent of the government’s information gathering capabilities and the existence of court orders and chose to operate their own system independent of the government. Perhaps that type of self-protective action may be necessary in our future.
We are so screwed.