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Internet of Things Simplifies Tasks but Complicates Privacy

Audiovisual March 31, 2016

If you embrace the internet of things (IoT), you can design your life so you don’t have to do more than lift a finger to secure your home, order new cleaning supplies, measure your morning run, and much, much more.

You can simplify day-to-day tasks in ways that save you time and energy but also puts your information more at risk than you might imagine.

Agreeing to the Terms of Service

Forget for a moment that every transmission of your data puts it at risk of being intercepted by cybercriminals. Then focus on what app, software, and service providers choose to do with your data. It’s standard for providers to require users to agree to terms of service, which often means granting them access to your private information.

IoT is a lot of things.

Billions of things.

The kinds of things that transmit personal data are fitness trackers, home security systems, vehicle GPS systems, Amazon’s Dash Button, and so much more.

All of those things collect an immense amount of data. And personal data is valuable. Everybody from marketers to scientific researchers to law enforcement profilers wants to know what makes us tick, what our next move may be, and how to influence us.

Privacy advocates have raised concerns over issues like what an employer that provides you with a wearable fitness device can do with your data.

Can health care professionals add your information to a pool to analyze for the greater good? Will you give permission for your devices to call emergency services if your vital signs are in question?

Soon our smart houses will know our habits—when we’re not at home, what we like to buy, who comes and goes. Altimeter conducted a survey of people that revealed people are concerned about what companies are doing with that kind of personal data.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued some best practice recommendations for companies involved in IoT, but many questions surrounding regulation, consumer protection, and more are sure to arise in the future.

Personal information could be used for everything from target marketing to layoff selection or even criminal profiling. That said, read the terms and conditions, pay attention to legislation, and ask companies questions.

As technology continues to amaze and connect us, we can look for ways to balance the benefits with privacy concerns.


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