Kellyanne Conway, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, outside the White House during an interview in Washington, March 8, 2017. Conway amplified Trump’s claim that President Barack Obama had tapped his telephone, suggesting on Monday that the former president’s surveillance effort could have employed any number of devices, even including a microwave oven. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

D.L. Stewart: You may scoff and snicker at your peril

The suggestion by presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway that our microwave ovens are spying on us has caused all sorts of scoffing and snickering.

That’s not necessarily news, of course. Just about everything Kellyanne Conway says causes scoffing and snickering. If she said there are 50 stars in the American flag, some people would scoff and snicker. And then someone from the White House would say that’s not exactly what she meant and there would be more scoffing and snickering. If there are two things this country has plenty of, it’s scoffing and snickering.

But maybe this microwave thing isn’t really all that funny. According to what I’ve been able to glean on my laptop, all sorts of devices will, or soon will be, spying on me. Including my laptop.

As a story posted just this week by Popular Mechanics headlined, “A Microwave Can’t Spy on You — But Plenty of Other Devices Can.” Among other things, the story mentioned as digital big brothers were televisions, refrigerators, baby monitors, headphones, and cellphone features such as OK Google and “Hey, Siri.”

“We are all constantly surrounded by stuff that can spy on us,” it warned. “You are surrounded by digital eyes and ears.”

MORE D.L.: A lifelong goal is inching away.

The story also reported there’s a new search engine that enables people to browse through Internet-connected devices. As examples, it displayed surreptitious shots of a woman cleaning her living room and some people drinking at a bar in Hungary. Television programming may not be all that great these days, but it’s still got to be more interesting than watching people at a bar in Hungary.

A link in the story mentioned something about Barbie dolls being hacked, but when I clicked on it, nothing came up. Which leads me to believe that someone at the CIA didn’t want me to have that information. So I’m not sure if Barbie can’t be hacked, but I’m going to be careful what I say around her, just in case.

It’s not quite clear to me if my appliances and other devices are transmitting my image, my conversations or both. But the bigger question is, who’s watching or listening?

EVEN MORE D.L.: Sex or smartphones? You make the call.

According to the latest estimates I could find, there are 114.2 million television sets alone in this country. Does that means there are 114.2 million people in a building somewhere watching other people watching television? And, if so, how do they all find parking spaces when they get to work?

Scoff and snicker if you will. But if the FBI comes pounding on your door because of something your microwave saw or overheard, don’t say you weren’t warned.

So maybe it’s time to take Kellyanne seriously.

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