The CIA has more leeway with smart appliances than regular computers due to changes in the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and court decisions about the American Patriot Act, both of which make less clear whether it's actually forbidden for the CIA to collect geolocation data from devices, collect server-based logs for individual cell phones and other ambient data.
The CIA isn't allowed to spy on people. It may or may not be allowed to spy on devices, which it would do to collect a lot of data about the activity of devices that implicitly say quite a lot about the activity of the people that own them.
Most privacy advocates would flag that immediately as a very big, pretty complicated problem that has to be addressed by defining more clearly what right of privacy Americans can expect from devices that happen to own a semiconductor, just how far the CIA, FBI or other agencies should be allowed to go in collecting data from devices – spying by proxy – and under what circumstances.
It would also require refinement or restructuring of the rules for the FBI, CIA , NSA and Secret Service to make clear to badge carriers that having the ability to listen in on every device touched by every citizen is not the same as having the right to do so, let alone having the eggs to cackle in anticipation when they think about it in public.
"Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters - all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing," the chief covert guardian of the liberty of Americans gurgled with joy. "It's going to change our notions of identity and secrecy."
The only question is, after the change, what changes should we allow to our sense of identity, to our ability to keep even the most private issue secret and to the ability of David Petraeus to penetrate those secrets by infiltrating our dishwashers, televisions and garbage disposals.
Read more of Kevin Fogarty's CoreIT blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinFogarty. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.