American researcher Christopher Balding claims he uncovered evidence that China is collecting data through smart coffee machines made in that country, The Washington Times reported.
Balding's report at New Kite Data Labs said internet-connected coffee machines are part of a broader data-collection effort aimed at the "internet of things" devices with low security and unclear data policies.
The Internet of Things describes physical objects (or groups of such objects) with sensors, processing ability, software, and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks, according to Wikipedia.
Such home appliances include robotic vacuums and thermostats that use machine learning to keep temperatures comfortable.
"China is really collecting data on really just anything and everything," Balding said, reported The Washington Times. "As a manufacturing hub of the world, they can put this capability in all kinds of devices that go out all over the world."
The coffee machines are made by Kalerm in Jiangsu, China. The machines gather product information, payment data, and customer information involving location and time, according to New Kite Data Labs.
The data provides insight into a user's name, relative location, and usage patterns. In commercial settings such as hotel breakfast buffets, a coffee machine might collect types of payments and routing information, for example.
New Kite Data Labs' report showed the data was collected from Chinese consumers, but the products are sold widely throughout the U.S. and Europe, and the data extracted via machines in China is likely taken from machines in the U.S.
"While we cannot say this company is collecting data on non-Chinese users, all evidence indicates their machines can and do collect data on users outside of mainland China and store the data in China," the report said. "The data is collected at the point of operation from software embedded in the coffee maker."
China's policies of military-civil fusion mandate corporations to cooperate with the communist government. That means data stored in China is exposed to the government.
Smart coffee machines are not the only vulnerable internet-connected devices placing hidden data at risk.
Some robotic vacuums use microphones to respond to users' commands. The vacuums can be controlled with apps available through Apple and Google app stores.
"Most countries of any significant size probably have interest in devices like this — make zero mistake about that," Balding said. "I think the thing that is unique about China is the breadth and depth of their data-collection efforts."
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.