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Watching us watching them

Big Brother is knocking at the door:

At the Digital Living Room conference today, Gerard Kunkel, Comcast’s senior VP of user experience, told me the cable company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who’s in your living room.

The idea being that if you turn on your cable box, it recognizes you and pulls up shows already in your profile or makes recommendations. If parents are watching TV with their children, for example, parental controls could appear to block certain content from appearing on the screen. Kunkel also said this type of monitoring is the “holy grail” because it could help serve up specifically tailored ads. Yikes.

Kunkel said the system wouldn’t be based on facial recognition, so there wouldn’t be a picture of you on file (we hope).

Given the revelations about the broad scope of the NSA’s warrantless wiretap program, we would have to be idiots to think that this isn’t going to morph into a tool for “national security”. I’d bet lawyers are working on the language of a EULA that says that by turning on your television you signify your agreement to be monitored.

Sadly, the majority of Americans will happily comply as long it means they can watch Survivor.

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