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Big Brother televisions: Intel is the latest firm to announce TV box that spies on you and selects ads that match your behaviour

PUBLISHED: 16:55, 14 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:21, 14 February 2013
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Campaigners today warned of a ’seismic shift’ in privacy invasion after it emerged that Intel was the latest company set to market a television set-top box equipped with a camera that stares back at viewers.
The company, which makes the microchips found inside most personal computers, has launched an entirely new division, Intel Media, to make and market the Orwellian streaming-television product.
Erik Huggers (pictured), vice-president of Intel Media, said the new service would offer users a TV ’that is much more personal, that learns about you, that actually cares about who you are.’
The camera, Intel claims, will enable them to personalise the interactive features of their product, so that different members of the same household can be served programming and advertising specific to them.
Intel is only the latest company to develop a television product that contains a camera and sensors designed to watch what viewers are up to.
U.S. cable provider Verizon sparked outrage in December when it applied to patent a set-top box technology that can observe what’s going on in the room and show viewers adverts based on what it detects
In U.S. Patent Application 20120304206 the company suggests it could detect when people are ’cuddling’ then show ’a commercial for a romantic getaway vacation, a commercial for a contraceptive, a commercial for flowers […] etc.
Microsoft also recently registered a patent for technology to allow its Kinect motion sensor to figure out how many people are in front of it then stop playback if it detected more people than the copyright terms allowed. Google TV proposed a similar patent that would use video and audio recording devices to do the same.
And Comcast in 2008 patented a monitoring technology that would recommend content to users based on people it recognised in the room.
The surge in products that look back at you will no doubt spark associations with George Orwell’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which an oppressed population live in fear of surveillance through two-way ’telescreens’.
The book’s hero, Winston Smith, is only able to keep a diary – a banned activity – because one corner of his old-fashioned flat is out of the view of the telescreen’s camera.
Erik Huggers, vice-president of Intel Media, spoke to AllThingsD’s Dive Into Media conference this week, where he gave official confirmation of Intel’s long-rumoured entry into the telescreen market.
’This thing looks like a leap in time of 10-20 years compared to what you have today, that is much more personal, that learns about you, that actually cares about who you are’
Erik Huggers, vice-president of Intel Media
He said: ’This thing looks like a leap in time of 10-20 years compared to what you have today, that is much more personal, that learns about you, that actually cares about who you are.’
He added: ’We think there’s real value in the ability to actually identify the various users. Today television doesn’t really know anything about you and it’s the same television service for everyone in the household.’
Challenged about the privacy implications surrounding a television service which is designed to look back at the viewer, he said: ’We think there’s real value in the ability to actually identify the various users.
’Today television doesn’t really know anything about you and it’s the same television service for everyone in the household.’
Intel’s new set-top box product is not the first technology that encroaches on the privacy of families’ living rooms.
Verizon recently applied for a patent for a set-top box equipped with sensors to detect the characteristics and activities of viewers and serve advertising to suit
Before that, Microsoft registered a patent for technology to allow its Kinect motion sensor to figure out how many people are in front of it then stop playback if it detected more people than the copyright terms allowed.
Google TV proposed a similar patent that would use video and audio recording devices to do the same.
And Comcast in 2008 patented a monitoring technology that would recommend content to users based on people it recognised in the room.
Samsung’s Smart TV already comes equipped with cameras and microphones, although they are not linked to a system which delivers personalised content.
Dutch-born Mr Huggers gave a personal example drawn from his own family life, where his children’s use of his Netflix account means that when he and his wife use it the service often suggests cartoons for them to watch.
’My kids may watch programming geared toward them, and I’ll watch programming geared toward me,’ he said.
’If there’s a way to distinguish who is watching what, advertisers can then target ads at the proper parties.’
He also promised that the final product would ship with a ’shutter’ over its camera’s lens, allowing users fearful of being watched to block its view.
Privacy campaigners nevertheless reacted with horror to the product, which Intel intends to sell directly to the public as soon as later this year.
Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: ’The idea that your television is watching you as you watch is a seismic shift in privacy protection.
’This is data collection solely for commercial purposes and most people won’t realise that this is even happening.
’It highlights why proper regulation is essential so companies aren’t free to scan and search your living room – or wherever you have a TV – to record more information on who is watching.
’At least this camera will have a physical way of blocking it, but with a range of smart televisions there is no way to block the in-built camera and microphones.
’Given the widespread concerns about these devices being hacked over the internet, they could well end up being Orwell’s telescreens controlled by strangers with a laptop.

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  • Love jmg bad!! says:

    Good Morning Met, I do not believe that these so called “smart” TV with built in camera was designed for interactions with the viewers as the manufacturers say, but it is a apart of the New World Order to spy in persons home. I remember watching Countdown ministries with Pastor Leighton Smith, where he spoke about these new TVs that will be launched soon. We need to keep our eyes open for these things that are happening in the world.

  • Met says:

    Good morning Love JMG

  • I honestly don’t have a problem with this Intel device; I first read about it months ago and got elated. I despise the Comcast and the Time Warners of the world and find them to be very limited.

    We are being force to buy these bundled cable packages and we don’t watch most of those channels–waste of money.

    Intel is attempting to provide us with scalable options, where we won’t have to worry about where one’s cable outlet is and eventually, they will make it so that we only order the channels that we need

    Since all I will need is a proper internet connection–hopefully, there won’t be any data cap issues–I hope that their won’t be any regional blocking; as I would hope to be able to take my set-top-box on the road with me.

    As far as the camera is concern, there is a shutter available to blind the camera. In one of the interviews that I saw, WSJ’s Walt Mossberg probed the Intel project lead–Erik Huggers–and he intimated that the camera is not a big deal. As it will make it so that TV adds reflect the actual audience.

    Erik Huggers when on to say that we are already being watched by our cellphone cameras–even when that camera is not in use. Most of us just don’t know how we are being monitored by our own cameras and listened to by our own microphones–don’t even mention the whole GPS thing. The Man has been observing us for some time now…

  • Foxy Lady says:

    Mr Nile, they have never done or implemented anything with the sole purpose of alleviating misery for us. As the article clearly states this is very Orwellian and if you haven’t already, please read George Orwell’s 1984 and the Brave New World. Animal Farm is also a good read.

    The first commenter is very correct. Go back and watch ‘Minority Report’ and you will realize just exactly where we are headed. If you familiarize yourself with the NDAA that was recently legislated into law, you will understand that the gun control agenda, the implementation of drone and the labeling of domestic terrorist is all one big design.

    This started when they mandated us to switch out our cable boxes to digital or we would not even receive basic tv. The government even subsidized the boxes. Why?
    Those digital receivers we have in our living and bedrooms are also two way receivers.
    The soft mention of this is just to ease it in to the public’s psyche as acceptable.

    They are implanting students in many states with RFID and selling the idea as easy to locate in the event of a kidnapping and people because of fear are going along with it. The elderly are already accepting these RFID chips implanted in their bodies as a way of keeping their medical records handy. Whenever they want to sell and push their insidious motives into mass acceptance it is too easily accepted and before you know it, it will be a full blown police state and only then will people begin to realize that they were too gullible.

  • PhantomPhoenix says:

    Morning Foxy L, L. Nile, Met and love.

    Foxy L factor in Ray Bradbury’s fahrenheit 451 as well. I will not do away with my books for kiddles/nooks and the sort.

  • Met says:

    hailings phantom

  • LUNDUN says:

    well the bible spoke about this, only a matter of time b4 they take the bilble away from us now.

    so most ppl have tv in their bedrooms, so this box will be able to watch us have sex with ur partners?

    or for sum of us, see the many one night stands passing through?

    will they then start showing us ads about aids and advertise what time cheaters will be on and on what channel?

    if u slap ur child infront the tv, will it then show u police adverts and social services ads?

    i’m fed up with this f—ing system.

  • Foxy Lady says:

    Thanks Phantom, I haven’t read it but as long as it’s available in e format, I will order it.

  • Foxy Lady says:

    Great thought provoking questions Lundun

  • LUNDUN says:

    foxy i don’t like this one bit!

    they are saying its geared towards making adverts more tailored, but its not!!

    this is blatant voyuerism, blatant spying and ppl who don’t read and analyse, outnumber the ppl who do, so all this shit will go through.

    how dare they tell u how to use ur devices that u spread 100s of dollars on! having sensors so they can detect how many ppl are viewing the kinect???

    this is straight up bullshit

  • Should I work or blog today–I will be right back [JGM is the best]

  • Foxy Lady, et al: good morning, I am mindful of all the outlined ulterior motives. With every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction–in a nutshell, there are all caveats. The write of this article speculated on most accounts and then it was very convenient to incorporate and the science fiction references. I have been following this Intel project for some time now and for my needs, it is is ideal.

    I am not naive to ignore the privacy related concerns–everything comes at a cost…

  • PhantomPhoenix says:

    lolol…F.L. chooo. Alright it’s a one day read , and the illustrated version drives the message home. gwan read then you’ll see how it re-enforce my stance against yu ‘e-book’. lol.

    *Remember to let me know when you’re finish. Oh, there’s another of his short story call The Veldt. Interesting too.

  • Foxy Lady says:

    I think it transcends privacy concerns and knowing the history of these government agencies I’m puzzled as to how you can give up privacy for the sake of targeted ads.

    Below is just a snapshot of what is already transpiring. In 5 years…..I can’t even imagine

    The FBI records the emails of nearly all US citizens, including members of congress, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. In an interview with RT, he warned that the government can use this information against anyone.

    Binney, one of the best mathematicians and code breakers in the history of the National Security Agency, resigned in 2001. He claimed he no longer wanted to be associated with alleged violations of the Constitution, such as how the FBI engages in widespread and pervasive surveillance through powerful devices called ‘Naris.’

    This year, Binney received the Callaway award, an annual prize that recognizes those who champion constitutional rights and American values at great risk to their personal or professional lives.

    RT: In light of the Petraeus/Allen scandal while the public is so focused on the details of their family drama, one may argue that the real scandal in this whole story is the power, the reach of the surveillance state. I mean if we take General Allen – thousands of his personal e-mails have been sifted through private correspondence. It’s not like any of those men was planning an attack on America. Does the scandal prove the notion that there is no such thing as privacy in a surveillance state?

    William Binney: Yes, that’s what I’ve been basically saying for quite some time, is that the FBI has access to the data collected, which is basically the emails of virtually everybody in the country. And the FBI has access to it. All the congressional members are on the surveillance too, no one is excluded. They are all included. So, yes, this can happen to anyone. If they become a target for whatever reason – they are targeted by the government, the government can go in, or the FBI, or other agencies of the government, they can go into their database, pull all that data collected on them over the years, and we analyze it all. So, we have to actively analyze everything they’ve done for the last 10 years at least.

    RT: And it’s not just about those, who could be planning, who could be a threat to national security, but also those, who could be just…

    WB: It’s everybody. The Naris device, if it takes in the entire line, so it takes in all the data. In fact they advertised they can process the lines at session rates, which means 10-gigabit lines. I forgot the name of the device (it’s not the Naris) – the other one does it at 10 gigabits. That’s why they’re building Bluffdale [database facility], because they have to have more storage, because they can’t figure out what’s important, so they are just storing everything there. So, emails are going to be stored there in the future, but right now stored in different places around the country. But it is being collected – and the FBI has access to it.

    RT: You mean it’s being collected in bulk without even requesting providers?

    WB: Yes.

    RT: Then what about Google, you know, releasing this biannual transparency report and saying that the government’s demands for personal data is at an all-time high and for all of those requesting the US, Google says they complied with the government’s demands 90 percent of the time. But they are still saying that they are making the request, it’s not like it’s all being funneled into that storage. What do you say to that?

    WB: I would assume that it’s just simply another source for the same data they are already collecting. My line is in declarations in a court about the 18-T facility in San Francisco, that documented the NSA room inside that AST&T facility, where they had Naris devices to collect data off the fiber optic lines inside the United States. So, that’s kind of a powerful device, that would collect everything it was being sent. It could collect on the order over of 100 billion 1,000-character emails a day. One device.

    RT: You say they sift through billions of e-mails. I wonder how do they prioritize? How do they filter it?

    WB: I don’t think they are filtering it. They are just storing it. I think it’s just a matter of selecting when they want it. So, if they want to target you, they would take your attributes, go into that database and pull out all your data.

    RT: Were you on the target list?

    WB: Oh, sure! I believe I’ve been on it for quite a few years. So I keep telling them everything I think of them in my email. So that when they want to read it they’ll understand what I think of them.

    RT: Do you think we all should leave messages for the NSA mail box?

    WB: Sure!

    RT: You blew the whistle on the agency when George W. Bush was the president. With President Obama in office, in your opinion, has anything changed at the agency, in the surveillance program? In what direction is this administration moving?

    WB: The change is it’s getting worse. They are doing more. He is supporting the building of the Bluffdale facility, which is over two billion dollars they are spending on storage room for data. That means that they are collecting a lot more now and need more storage for it. That facility by my calculations that I submitted to the court for the Electronic Frontiers Foundation against NSA would hold on the order of 5 zettabytes of data. Just that current storage capacity is being advertised on the web that you can buy. And that’s not talking about what they have in the near future.

    RT: What are they going to do with all of that? Ok, they are storing something. Why should anybody be concerned?

    WB: If you ever get on the enemies list, like Petraeus did or… for whatever reason, than you can be drained into that surveillance.

    RT: Do you think they would… General Petraeus, who was idolized by the same administration? Or General Allen?

    WB: There are certainly some questions, that have to be asked, like why would they target it to begin with? What law were they breaking?

    RT: In case of General Petraeus one would argue that there could have been security breaches. Something like that. But with General Allen – I don’t quite understand, because when they were looking into his private emails to this woman.

    WB: That’s the whole point. I am not sure what the internal politics is… That’s part of the program. This government doesn’t want things in the public. It’s not a transparent government. Whatever the reason or the motivation was, I don’t really know, but I certainly think that there was something going on in the background that made them target those fellows. Otherwise why would they be doing it? There is no crime there.

    RT: It seems that the public is divided between those, who think that the government surveillance program violates their civil liberties, and those who say, ‘I’ve nothing to hide. So, why should I care?’ What do you say to those who think that it shouldnt concern them.

    WB: The problem is if they think they are not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does, the central government defines what is right and wrong and whether or not they target you. So, it’s not up to the individuals. Even if they think they aren’t doing something wrong, if their position on something is against what the administration has, then they could easily become a target.

    RT: Tell me about the most outrageous thing that you came across during your work at the NSA.

    WB: The violations of the constitution and any number of laws that existed at the time. That was the part that I could not be associated with. That’s why I left. They were building social networks on who is communicating and with whom inside this country. So that the entire social network of everybody, of every US citizen was being compiled overtime. So, they are taking from one company alone roughly 320 million records a day. That’s probably accumulated probably close to 20 trillion over the years.

    The original program that we put together to handle this to be able to identify terrorists anywhere in the world and alert anyone that they were in jeopardy. We would have been able to do that by encrypting everybody’s communications except those who were targets. So, in essence you would protect their identities and the information about them until you could develop probable cause, and once you showed your probable cause, then you could do a decrypt and target them. And we could do that and isolate those people all alone. It wasn’t a problem at all. There was no difficulty in that.

    RT: It sounds very difficult and very complicated. Easier to take everything in and

  • No no Foxy, you got it wrong–it is best for me to correctly respond once I am done with this meet. Since the human brain cannot multi-task…

  • Foxy Lady, are you there?

  • Concerned Citizen says:

    Met suh yuh a tell me when me inna me bedroom and wa “hangle” me business, Big brother a watch! :mewek . This is not good at all :siul

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