When we think about family life today it is hard not to think about the way in which the home is being transformed by everyday digital technologies. From smart meters and baby/nanny cams to phone apps and online utility bills the ‘home’ is constantly connected.
When talking to parents at present, a picture emerges which reveals not only the fact that they perceive this technological transformation almost as ‘inevitable’ but also that they perceive it extremely beneficial. A for instance, who lived in Los Angeles, mentioned
“I can use the nanny cam to monitor children when they are home, even if they are old enough to be at home by themselves I can keep an eye on them. V: And do you interact with them? A: Yes. Let me think (what else is good of the new technologies) I can call my kids when they are out and monitor them, I can use GPS on them to see what they are doing V: And do you use it? A: I have on my daughter to see where she is at. She didn’t call. You have little apps that you can use, and it comes in handy, you never know, your kid could be kidnapped”.
There are of course many different benefits associated to the new smart homes and the rapid proliferating culture of ‘the internet of things’ in the home. At present, I am interviewing mostly working mothers, who seem to be excited and welcome this transformation. Everything has become much easier. From the management of utility bills to making sure that children are sleeping well. The smart home makes multi-tasking less challenging and provides them with a new feeling of freedom.
extreme privacy concerns associated to the fact that there are ‘automated’ systems in place that collect data from families on a regular basis.This is especially true if we consider the debates about the introducton of ‘smart meters’. In 2013, the U.K. Government, for instance, highly supported and encouraged the introduction of smart meters in British households and made clear that they would set our rules to ensure that energy companies would respect rules of a) data access and privacy b) security c) echnical standards for the smart metering equipment d) meeting the needs of vulnerable consumers. We didn’t have to wait long before, this is, the Government Communication Headquarters in the UK (GCHQ) had to intervene after it was revealed that there was a loophole in meters’ design, which meant that all meters were using the same encryption key and were thus not only vulnerable to hackers’ attacks but constituted a threat to national security.
The privacy concernes related to ‘smart homes’ and the introduction of the ‘internet of things’ in the households are not only about possible security breaches, but also about governemntal surveillance.
highprivacy concerns are particularly predominant especially within the U.K. and the U.S. national contexts, where not only governmental surveillance and the collection of data is a widely spread practice but it is constantly strengthened and further legitimised. In the UK, for instance