The Internet of Things (IoT) is a pretty hot buzz word now because of the interconnectivity of mobile applications to objects like your thermostat, speakers, and security cameras. To put it simply, IoT consists of a physical object, a sensor, plus the internet! In addition there are over 10 billion interconnected smart devices out there and that number is looking to double in just a decade. Also in a decade, the IoT market is expected to bring in 7.1 trillion dollars.
The idea of interconnectivity seems pretty astonishing, but at the same time it leaves me to question, what about my privacy? In a post featured in Slate, the author claims that a book written in 1969 titled, Ubik, warns us about the very evils of capitalism and IoT. The protagonist named Joe Chip, is trying to leave his apartment one morning and is met with a doorknob threatening to sue him:
“One morning, upon attempting to exit his apartment, the smartdoor blocked him, saying "Five cents, please."
"I'll pay you tomorrow," Chip promised after searching his empty pockets.
The door isn't having it, and refused to open. "What I pay you," Chip said, "is in the nature of a gratuity; I don't have to pay you."
"I think otherwise," the door said. "Look in the purchase contract you signed." Chip did as told, retrieving the contract and reading it.
"You discover I'm right," said the door in a smug voice.
Using a knife as a screwdriver, Chip started to unscrew the bolt assembly.
"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.
"I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it," Chip responded.
IoT Benefits and Privacy
Now a door suing you is pretty outlandish, I know, but a more commonplace thing that actually troubles people is data security/collection. For example a Smart TV was caught collecting data without the knowledge of the user even when the feature was turned off. Sure, this feature made recommendations of what to watch based on what the user already saw which made the experience of watching TV better. However, they failed to be transparent with the usage of the data they collect or give the user control over having their data stored, a common occurrence with companies these days. .
With proper policies in place, the data collected from smart devices would impact the application of IoT in the development of future and current consumer products. It is true thought that the IoT isn’t the only option to reach personal data. Today everything is being hacked from large scale sites like Ashley Madison to any home router. As a Reuters article shared:
“The IoT revolution provides a mental pause that we should use to rethink what we want from the Internet. If we expect privacy and security from the IoT, surely we should expect the same from the regular Internet, which means renegotiating our email, storage, and navigation accounts to put a premium on privacy and security. Privacy and security can't be free. In real life and on the Internet, you get what you pay for.”
In our ever connected world and increasing amount of data that is generated from our smart devices, it is essential to develop guidelines that address privacy and security issues while educating consumers on how their data is being stored and shared.
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