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Internet of Things, Privacy, Security and Related Issues

The Internet of Things (“IoT”) is the next evolution and is making a remarkable impact on technology and our way of life. In fact, the availability of an omnipresent network connectivity has fostered the widespread use of smart devices.

Devices are now able to communicate with each other through embedded sensors that are linked by wired and wireless networks. For example, they include thermostats, automobiles, or pills that permit a physician to monitor the patient’s health.

Technology has allowed us to detect and monitor changes in the physical status of connected devices (e.g., RFID, sensors) in real-time. Technology advancements allow networks and objects they connect to become more intelligent. The factors that are currently driving growth, include, development of smart cities, smart cars, and smart homes, enhanced connectivity infrastructures, and a connected cultures.

What Are the Legal Concerns?

First, privacy is a concern. Unlike the Internet (i.e., world-wide-web), where the majority of information on an individual is either public or user-posted information, the IoT is governed by information that is stored by devices without human-intervention. Privacy may be compromised through sensor technologies, wearable technologies, Unmanned Aerial Systems (“UAS”), or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“UAV”).

Wearable technology is able to generate constant, convenient, seamless, portable, and hands-free access to electronics and computers. It can be used in the military, law enforcement, entertainment, and healthcare industries. However, with every benefit comes a risk. In this case, the risk is violation of privacy rights.

Drones (i.e., flying robots) are being used by military and non-military persons. These flying robots include UAS and UAV, which are remotely-piloted autonomous systems. These machines are useful for clandestine or covert operations. However, adapting to these new devices has not been easy for society. The major concerns, include, but are not limited to, regulation, insurance, and privacy.

Second, security is another concern. Devices are now able to interact with other devices for business and personal reasons. We can control information from a single device that is synchronized with other devices. Also, devices can synchronize data with other devices, which permits collaboration, sharing, and backing up of information. So, in order to adapt to this evolution, the legal system must concentrate on the interaction of information technology with other industries. In addition, the legal system must implement a uniform view to accommodate information technology.

Remote access allows criminals to obtain access to a network that contains confidential information (i.e., trade secrets). In other words, cybercrime is a growing problem. Other issues with remote access include, data privacy, protection of proprietary rights, and liability for unauthorized use of systems.

What Are Governments Doing About It?

In recent times, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has held public meetings on this topic. For example, it has held a public workshop to explore consumer privacy and security issues posed by the growing connectivity of devices. These workshops focus on privacy and security issues related to connectivity for consumers—both at home (e.g., smart home appliances), and when consumers are mobile (e.g., fitness devices, personal devices, and automobiles). The European Union has also addressed IoT and its risks, such as privacy, security and trust.

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