Kashmir Hill: So for my birthday last year,
my husband got me an Amazon Echo.
I was kind of shocked, actually,
because we both work in privacy and security.
And this was a device that would sit in the middle of our home
with a microphone on,
We’re not alone, though.
According to a survey by NPR and Edison Research,
one in six American adults now has a smart speaker,
which means that they have a virtual assistant at home.
Like, that’s wild.
The future, or the future dystopia, is getting here fast.
Beyond that, companies are offering us all kinds of internet-connected devices.
There are smart lights, smart locks, smart toilets, smart toys,
smart sex toys.
Being smart means the device can connect to the internet,
it can gather data,
and it can talk to its owner.
But once your appliances can talk to you,
who else are they going to be talking to?
I wanted to find out,
so I went all-in and turned my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco
into a smart home.
I even connected our bed to the internet.
As far as I know, it was just measuring our sleeping habits.
I can now tell you that the only thing worse
than getting a terrible night’s sleep
is to have your smart bed tell you the next day
that you "missed your goal and got a low sleep score."
It’s like, "Thanks, smart bed.
As if I didn’t already feel like shit today."
All together, I installed 18 internet-connected devices in my home.
I also installed a Surya.
Surya Mattu: Hi, I’m Surya.
I monitored everything the smart home did.
I built a special router that let me look at all the network activity.
You can think of my router sort of like a security guard,
compulsively logging all the network packets
as they entered and left the smart home.
KH: Surya and I are both journalists, he’s not my husband,
we just work together at Gizmodo.
SM: Thank you for clarifying.
The devices Kashmir bought --
we were interested in understanding
what they were saying to their manufacturers.
But we were also interested in understanding
what the home’s digital emissions look like
to the internet service provider.
We were seeing what the ISP could see, but more importantly,
what they could sell.
KH: We ran the experiment for two months.
In that two months,
there wasn’t a single hour of digital silence in the house --
not even when we went away for a week.
SM: Yeah, it’s so true.
Based on the data, I knew when you guys woke up and went to bed.
I even knew when Kashmir brushed her teeth.
I’m not going to out your brushing habits,
but let’s just say it was very clear to me when you were working from home.
KH: Uh, I think you just outed them to, like, a lot of people here.
SM: Don’t be embarrassed, it’s just metadata.
I knew when you turned on your TV and how long you watched it for.
Fun fact about the Hill household:
they don’t watch a lot of television,