Ralph welcomes the Washington Post’s technology columnist, Geoffrey Fowler, to explain all the ways your smart devices are gathering information about you, your garage door, your soap dispenser, your vacuum cleaner and even your toilet.
Geoffrey Fowler is The Washington Post’s technology columnist. Before joining the Post he spent sixteen years with the Wall Street Journal writing about consumer technology, Silicon Valley, national affairs and China.
I’m actually really excited by technology. I love it… What angers me is that we’ve allowed a couple of really big corporations—Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook— to give us (as consumers, as users of this stuff) a false choice. And the false choice is, “You can either live in a world where you have all these great conveniences, you can use this new technology… But if you want that, you have to give us all of this data. You have to allow us to surveille you. You have to allow us to watch everything your kids do so we can market to them.” And the false choice here is: if you don’t want that, you can’t have the future. You just have to go live under a rock.
We looked at the 1000 most popular iPhone apps that are likely to be used by children, and found that 2/3rds of them were collecting data about children— personal information, including their location— and sending it off to the advertising industry… By the time a child reaches 13, online advertising companies hold an average of 72 million data points about them. Each kid.