Petraeus: Household Devices Can Foment CIA Surveillance

Monday, 19 Mar 2012 12:37 PM

By Greg McDonald

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CIA Director David Petraeus says technological advances have opened up a whole new field of spying opportunities by turning personal and household devices into what amounts to intelligence-gathering stations.
 
Everything from phone applications used to control home lighting to car navigation systems can now be tapped by the CIA or other intelligence agencies and used to monitor the activities of persons of interest, according to Wired magazine’s Danger Zone national security blog.
 
Petraeus talked openly earlier this month about what he called an “Internet of Things,” or wired devices that could be turned automatically to spying without their users’ knowledge. He made the comments, the Danger Zone reported, at a summit for In-Q-Tel, a company described as an investment arm of the CIA.
 
“‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,” Petraeus reportedly said at the summit, “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,” the CIA director continued.

Petraeus acknowledged these new household spy devices would likely change “our notions of identity and secrecy,” which is something that worries privacy protection groups and lawmakers already concerned about how easy it is to obtain information from personal devices.

Petraeus also expressed interest at the summit in creating new online identities for undercover agents and being able to erase any digital record of their existence.

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