"But the Apple case threatens to undermine those promises. If a court can get Apple to hack into an iPhone, why couldn’t it also force Amazon to change the Echo’s security model so the Echo can record everything you say? Mr. Soghoian believes the Apple case could set that precedent.
“What we really need for the Internet of Things to not turn into the Internet of Surveillance is a clear ruling that says that the companies we’re inviting into our homes and bedrooms cannot be conscripted to turn their products into roving bugs for the F.B.I.,” he said.
Some readers may argue for a simpler solution to this problem: Opt out of the technologies that could be made to spy on you. Don’t buy the Amazon Echo. Don’t put cameras in your house. Don’t use a thermostat that connects to the Internet and can monitor when you’re home and when you’re not.
There’s some merit to these arguments, but technology has a way of worming its way into our lives without many of us making a conscious choice to let it in. Smartphones and personal computers were once an indulgence; then, as more people began to use them, they became inescapable.
The “Internet of Things” will follow a similar path. Employers and insurance companies may require you to wear health-tracking devices. It may become impossible to find cars without cameras and sensors. Every fridge will come with cameras inside whether you like it or not.
“From a historical perspective, we’re entering into a very new era,” said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Not long ago, we were living in a world in which surveillance was difficult. “In the past, you and I would have a conversation in person. No record would be made; nobody would have access to it. I wrote things on paper; I burned them in my fireplace. They were gone forever.”
But in the absence of technical and legal protections, technology is upturning those presumptions.
“Now we have a surveillance-enabled world,” Ms. Granick said. “It’s cheap, and it’s easy. The question that society has to ask is, Is that what we really want?”