Chris Albrecht of NewTeeVee reports on a conversation he had with a Vice President of cable giant Comcast. Said Vice President revealed a plan in the research-and-development stage to include a camera in the living room cable box. That way, you see, Comcast could collect data on who in the home is watching what TV show, and when too. The professed goal of this is to offer each viewer in a home an enhanced TV-watching experience (meaning that they get to pitch ads to you in particular and charge higher advertising rates for it), and also to block certain kinds of content for certain kinds of viewers.
Not only is it none of Comcast’s goddamned business who in my house is watching what (OK, assuming that I have cable TV, which I don’t), but in addition to that such a gizmo sets up a Patriot Act wet dream. You may recall that the USA Patriot Act permits “sneak and peek” searches of your home, your belongings, and physical and virtual information associated with you. You’ll never be informed that the search ever occurred. The federal government has a repeated track record of using its Patriot Act authority to search and grab information regarding individuals who are under no suspicion of crime and pose no national security threat. Comcast’s gizmo sets up a camera in your home maintaining a database who is in the house, when, and watching what. Once the information is created, the federal government can seize it without your knowledge and with no reason for you to trust that such seizures will be for legitimate reasons.
Government spy devices. That’s what in practical effect the Comcast cameras are, no matter what benevolent (or merely economically malevolent) purpose for which the Comcast cameras are intended. Do not let anyone put a U.S. government spy device inside your home. Reruns of Desperate Housewives are not worth it.