Friday, April 25, 2014


Lamp or listening device?
How would you know?
Via Bruce Schneier, from Wired, we learn about "[a]n eavesdropping lamp that livetweets private conversations":

Two artists have revealed Conversnitch, a device they built for less than $100 that resembles a lightbulb or lamp and surreptitiously listens in on nearby conversations and posts snippets of transcribed audio to Twitter. Kyle McDonald and Brian House say they hope to raise questions about the nature of public and private spaces in an era when anything can be broadcast by ubiquitous, Internet-connected listening devices.


The surveillance gadget they unveiled Wednesday is constructed from little more than a Raspberry Pi miniature computer, a microphone, an LED and a plastic flower pot. It screws into and draws power from any standard bulb socket. Then it uploads captured audio via the nearest open Wi-Fi network to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, which McDonald and House pay small fees to transcribe the audio and post lines of conversation to Conversnitch’s Twitter account. “This is stuff you can buy and have running in a few hours,” says McDonald, a 28-year-old adjunct professor at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts.

It's not just the NSA anymore. We have table lamps in most rooms of the house; so, I'm sure, do you... lamps in your bedroom, lamps in your den, lamps in your office at home. There's probably nothing unique about them; someone could quite possibly replace one without your notice by swapping out a lampshade.

Does anybody have a grudge against you? Prepare to be boarded...

Afterthought: maybe it's time to pay attention to your wireless router's security.

Afterthought: this is probably more amenable to use by people who suspect their spouses of cheating. The installation obstacles would be minimized if you installed it in your own home.

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