The Privacy Predicament with the Internet of Things | TechWell

The Privacy Predicament with the Internet of Things

The advent of the Internet of Things means that more and more devices, gadgets, and appliances are going to have software in them. This trend was especially evident at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 this past week in Las Vegas, Nevada, where many new innovations were on display and even a smart device connected baby pacifier was unveiled.

The information and technology research firm Gartner recently released market research citing that there will be nearly 30 percent more connected devices being used in 2015, as compared to 2014. If their analysis holds true, then roughly 5 billion smart devices will be in operation this year.

While this is an exciting proposition to some, others—like Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez—see it as an alarming notion that needs to be monitored and privacy regulated. Ramirez spoke out last week during the CES convention, pushing for government standards and regulation on the Internet of Things. The plea from Ramirez came out of concern for privacy, as she proposed that privacy has to become a part of the design process and that consumers should always have an option to opt out.

Ramirez applauded the Internet of Things, citing that it "has the potential to provide enormous benefits for consumers,” but cautioned that it comes with "significant privacy and security implications."

As US News pointed out, Ramirez added to her plea that there needs to be regulation specifically for consumer data, noting a need for consumer protection and privacy.

“Reasonable limits on data collection and data retention is the first line of defense for consumer privacy,” she said.

Ramirez argued that ensuring privacy for the Internet of Things and regulating the collection of data isn’t meant to stifle the growth of the smart device industry. On the contrary, Ramirez, like Intel’s Internet of Things chief, Doug Davis, argues that having the consumer’s trust in their privacy protection is vital for the adoption of new technology and the future growth of the Internet of Things.

Ramirez was quoted by ComputerWorld’s Loek Essers as saying, "That trust is as important to the widespread consumer adoption of new IoT products and services as a network connection is to the functionality of an IoT device."

As our lives become further entrenched within the Internet and connected technology, it can be hard to keep our information isolated. However, with pushes from the government, consumers, and industry leading companies like Intel, the right to privacy may no longer be a predicament, but instead a problem of the past.  

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