The government has been heard repeatedly to complain that they simply cannot do their job intelligence wise because of all these encrypted programs by US tech companies. They desire that encryption not be permitted with the reason being that they simply cannot keep you safe.
If you're looking for proof positive that encryption by our tech companies is not jeopardizing your safety and security, you don't have to go any further to find it than the 2016 testimony of our own Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.
Clapper lauded the many devices currently being used and made it abundantly clear that those devices, things such as cameras, thermostats, hot water heaters,televisions, even your toaster--the IoT that we're all so pleased and proud to be a part of--will be used to spy on you.
These devices, connected to the internet and reporting back to companies around the globe, are proving to be a remarkably good way for intelligence communities to spy on their targets. Given the many collected phone and instant messenger conversations, are you willing to believe this is not a danger for you or someone you know? Moreover, it's a danger that most of those who buy the connected products simply don't think about.
Clapper stated that "In the future, intelligence services might use the [internet of things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.” Clapper was speaking to a Senate panel. (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/09/internet-of-things-smart-home-devices-government-surveillance-james-clapper)
He actually stated something markedly similar to a study done at Harvard last year, which study concluded that " the FBI’s recent claim that they are “going dark” – losing the ability to spy on suspects because of encryption – is largely overblown, mainly because federal agencies have so many more avenues for spying. This echoes comments by many surveillance experts, who have made clear that, rather than “going dark”, we are actually in the “golden age of surveillance”.
According to the Guardian, "Privacy advocates have known about the potential for government to exploit the internet of things for years. Law enforcement agencies have taken notice too, increasingly serving court orders on companies for data they keep that citizens might not even know they are transmitting."
Google has been asked to present footage from their Dropcam, while Fitbit data has been used in court multiple times against defendents. More recently Amazon has been asked to present data to the authorities in a murder trial but so far they have refused.
Your best option is that you ensure you know the stance of each company from which you buy IoT devices and whether or not they are a guardian of your privacy and rights ,or whether they will be happy to provide any information requested any time they are asked.
The potential for violation of your privacy is quite large but have you ever considered that you may be wrongfully accused or convicted of a crime, based on something that your television or toaster may have overheard?
Is there an up side to all of this? Police say yes, there is. That same data that can be used to accuse you may also be used to exonerate you OR possibly to find a killer or the perpetrator of a crime. Read more about that here. . .