New iPod, privacy sold separately
They think of everything over at Apple. Want to watch The Office on your morning commute? iTunes has you covered. Want to turn your run into a high-tech profile of your fitness routine? Nike and iPod can help you. But protect your privacy? That’s a bit trickier. The new Nike+ sport kit for the iPod ...
They think of everything over at Apple. Want to watch The Office on your morning commute? iTunes has you covered. Want to turn your run into a high-tech profile of your fitness routine? Nike and iPod can help you. But protect your privacy? That's a bit trickier.
The new Nike+ sport kit for the iPod Nano, which launched earlier this year, uses a sensor to transmit information from a (specially designed) shoe to a Nano, and informs you how far you’ve traveled and how many calories you’ve burned. But what are you giving up for all that convenience and data? According to the BBC, more than you think:
A team of computer science researchers from the University of Washington has scrutinized the runner’s aid and found that it “fails to offer even the most basic level of user privacy.” […] Once activated the sensor broadcasts continuously and nothing is done to encrypt the signal to hide it from eavesdroppers… The unique identifier could be tracked up to 20 metres away outdoors and at speeds up to 30 mph.
The researchers tested ways to intercept the data from the transmitters using one’s own receivers. They speculated that if stalkers or thieves were to employ the devices, the receivers could be used to monitor targets’ activities and locations. What is even more worrying is that surveys conducted showed that “most people who use the iPod Sport kit turn the sensor on, slip it in their running shoe and never turn it off.” Professor Tadayoshi Kohno, who is part of the research team at the University of Washington expresses futher concern:
This situation begs the broader question: as manufacturers continue to introduce other new, sophisticated technological personal gadgets, will these gadgets erode our privacy even further? More importantly, what can we do about that?
Apparently, when it comes to iPods, privacy is sold separately.
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