Based on a survey of 779 senior business leaders from 19 different industries around the world, a report by The Economist concluded that 75% of businesses are already using and exploring the field of the Internet of Things. According to technology market intelligence company ABI Research, there are more than 10 billion wirelessly connected devices in the market today and that number is expected to reach 30 billion wirelessly connected devices by 2020.
While it is true that the Internet of Things is and will make everyone’s lives easier, the new technology has already started to bring privacy threats and if not balanced, the Internet of Things may become an invader of everyone’s private life. A report published by the U.S. National Intelligence Council in 2008 stated that it would be very difficult in the near future to prevent “access to networks of sensors and remotely controlled objects by enemies of the United States, criminals, and mischief makers.”
Some of the Internet of Things’ privacy threats include illegal monitoring, private life invasion and data profiling:
By enabling various devices and objects to be connected to the Internet-connected modules, the Internet of Things ‘unconsciously’ allows hackers, criminals, etc. to illegally monitor the movements of children, specific people, etc. and allow them to gather any type of information they want to; a certain information they wouldn’t get otherwise.
Private life invasion
Besides making it possible for criminals to monitor anyone they want, the Internet-connected modules will also enable criminals to invade their victim’s private lives since the Internet-connected modules can be installed in various every-day-use objects around the house, the office and other inhabited spaces.
According to an article by DeveloperTech, the anonymized information submitted by the Internet-connected modules can be used for creating detailed profiles of the users of those modules, which in turn can be used for targeted advertising that may constitute a threat to personal autonomy.
Even though customers may not want their preferences to be publicly known, they can do nothing about it if a certain company decides to collect data from the Internet refrigerator and find out specific preferences of specific people and use the data to advertise more effectively and send them advertisements related to what they usually consume or what they usually would be prone to buy.
According to International Data Corporation (IDC), ‘the Internet of Things connectivity drive will create a market worth up to $8.9 trillion by 2020.’ With such fast growning premises, the Internet of Things should be regulated in a way that it keeps developing more and more in the future without threatening people’s lives and their privacy.
“All new technologies and innovations involve risk and the chance for mistakes, but experimentation yields wisdom and progress. A precautionary principle for the Internet of Things, by contrast, would limit those learning opportunities and stifle progress and prosperity as a result,” according to Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center.
(Picture Source: nytimes.com)
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