PoliticsPolitical Scandals


Your Microwave Can't Spy On You ... Yet.

Microwaves don't make for good surveillance devices, but that could change if internet-connected smart microwaves catch on.
Posted at 7:04 PM, Mar 13, 2017

White House counsel Kellyanne Conway told CNN, "I'm not Inspector Gadget. I don't believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign."

Kellyanne Conway is right — your microwave can't be used to spy on you. For now.

Conway's comments to the Bergen Record about microwaves being used for surveillance — and her subsequent walkback of those comments — were roundly mocked.

Fox News' Shepard Smith reported, "Fox News can now confirm: Microwaves heat food. Cameras take pictures."

"That's why my mom always told me to stay away from microwaves when they were on, right?" an MSNBC commentator quipped.

Conway says she was talking about broader surveillance techniques, which can be used to collect sensitive data from internet-connected devices like smartphones and televisions.

Microwaves aren't really a great surveillance tool. They generally don't capture video, audio or any data more sensitive than how long you pop your popcorn.

But the push to connect every kitchen appliance to the internet could someday come for microwaves. A smart microwave with a built-in microphone was successfully Kickstarted in 2014, but the project hasn't delivered on its promises yet.

But whether it's phones, TVs, microwaves or other devices, the government would still likely need a court to sign off on any targeted intelligence gathering of a U.S. citizen. So far, there's been no evidence that any such sign-off was given for anyone on the Trump campaign.