The Internet Of Things

Created by Laura Biber on April 20, 2016 1068

The Internet of things (IoT) refers to the system of interrelated computing devices, machines, and objects that have unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network. Included in this definition is everything from smart cars, to smart homes, to fitness watches, to baby monitors. The growth in the number of these devices connected to the Internet has grown significantly in recent years to 25 billion devices, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that this number will double to 50 billion devices by 2020.

Two of the major concerns with the IoT are the lack of security and the privacy implications of all the data collected. First, because of the broad range of devices connected to the IoT, some argue that all the vulnerabilities of the digital world have been introduced into our real world. Examples of IoT devices getting hacked abound, with Sony’s PlayStation, baby monitors, cars, and “Hello Barbie” reportedly succumbing to attacks. Another recent example, although attributed to an iOS glitch rather than a hack, is a British smart thermostat system that had some customer’s thermostats stuck at 32 C (about 90F).

These security vulnerabilities also affect privacy issues. In the hack of TrendNet’s live-camera feeds (used to monitor babies, patients in hospitals, offices, banks, etc.), the hacker was able to post links on the Internet of over 700 IP cameras. This exposed private areas and activities including surveillance of babies in their cribs, children playing, and daily household activities. But beyond the privacy implications of hacks, there is also the issue of what data is being collected, how it is being used, and the protective measures in place.

Congress has yet to pass legislation tasking the FTC with the regulation of the IoT. In its 2015 report (see link provided), the FTC concluded that broad Congressional regulation of the IoT would not be appropriate at this time. The most cited...

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Written by Laura Biber on April 24, 2016 0 1566
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Supporting Authority

FTC Staff Report on Internet of Things
Link to Supporting Resource

The FTC hosted a workshop in November 2013 on privacy and security concerns related to the growth in the Internet of Things. This 2015 report is a summary of the workshop and the recommendations of the FTC. The workshop participants concluded that Internet of Things specific legislation is not appropriate at this time, as it might stifle innovation. Instead, the report recommends that Congress enact "general data security legislation."

Created by Laura Biber on March 31, 2016 0 1704