The smart home on FIRE: amplifying and accelerating domestic surveillance

Sophia Maalsen, Jathan Sadowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Some of the largest tech companies in the world, not to mention a stream of smaller startups, are now our roommates. Homes have become the target for smart devices and digital platforms that aim to upgrade old appliances, like refrigerators, and provide new capabilities, like virtual assistants. While smart devices have been variously championed and demonized in both academic literature and popular media, this article moves critical analysis beyond the common—but still important—concerns with privacy and security. By directing our attention to the wider political economy of datafication, it reveals the increasingly influential, yet shadowy, role of industries outside the tech sector in designing and deploying surveillance systems in domestic spaces. Namely, the FIRE sector of finance, insurance, and real estate. When Amazon and Google moved into our homes, they also let in a suite of uninvited third parties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-124
Number of pages7
JournalSurveillance & Society
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

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