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Top Story: Smart home devices may be used by the government to spy on you

Top Story: Smart home devices may be used by the government to spy on you
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You may not know it yet, but the Internet of Things is making your life a lot easier. IoT just means that your devices, whether it's your car or home appliances, are connected to the Internet.

With smart-home gadgets, for instance, you can remotely turn on the lights from your smartphone as you're driving home. Or, you might disable your home's alarm so your dog sitter can get in, when you're halfway around the world.

Unfortunately, all those Internet connections open you up to cyberspying. And we're not just talking about hackers who want to get access to your home, or spy on you.

The government confirms that it would like to use your Internet-connected devices to check in on you. "In the future, intelligence services might use the IoT for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials," said James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, earlier this week.

This comes shortly after the federal government said encryption is making it nearly impossible to spy on citizens. Encryption scrambles your identity and activities when you're online, and then hides it behind a password.

Even if a hacker, or the government, figures out your password, they won't be able to see any useful information. Encryption is proving to be a headache for the government, in part because companies like Apple won't design devices that are easily decrypted.

Still, Harvard University recently reported that encryption will only slow down the government's spying efforts. In fact, the sheer number IoT devices will open up loads of new opportunities for government snooping.

"As data collection volume and methods proliferate, the number of human and technical weaknesses with the system will increase to the point that it will overwhelmingly likely be a net positive for the intelligence community." That's according to Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard law and computer science professor.

Zittrain cited examples of smart, or Internet-connected devices the government could potentially use. Those include smart TVs, smartphones, baby monitors, but even smart dolls like Hello Barbie and Internet-connected pregnancy tests.

In his report, Zittrain worries that the government will force manufacturers to create a backdoor to get past encryption. The government has some compelling reasons to want to do that.

Case in point: The government still can't get past encryption on the smartphones used by the San Bernardino terrorists, who killed 14 people in December.

Note: There is some encouraging news to report. The House of Representatives is considering a 2016 bill that will make it illegal for states to require manufacturers to design products so they can be decrypted. Let your representative know you support the ENCRYPT Act.

What do you think? Should the government be allowed to compel manufacturers to design devices they can remotely access? Let us know in comments.

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