NSA researches usefulness of internet-connected biomedical devices for foreign intelligence gathering


In June 2016, National Security Agency deputy director Richard Ledgett told a conference on military technology conference that the agency was researching whether internet-connected biomedical devices such as pacemakers could be used to collect foreign intelligence. Ledgett identified the complexity of the Internet of Things as both a security nightmare and an opportunity for signals intelligence. However, the NSA prioritises its resources by focusing solely on technology used by its opponents, rather than all devices that are popular in the US. Other intelligence officials, such as director of national intelligence James Clapper, have made similar comments, although he has also said that information obtained from ordinary household appliances can't replace the collecting the content of terrorists' communications. The NSA has yet to work out what its policy will be when its own agents require the implantation of internet-connected biomedical devices; currently, the agency bans mobile phones on its premises.


Writer: Jenna McLoughlin
Publication: The Intercept

Our campaign
Learn more
Related learning resources