The Internet of Things

FTC Staff, Federal Trade Commission, Jan 28, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Released today by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States, this report (71 page PDF)  looks at the provacy and security implications of the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea behind the IoT is that devices and appliances can have their own internet connections and exchange information with online services. A good example is the FitBit, which a person wears on their wrist, and which exchanges information about movement and exercise with the online service. The IoT is incredibly useful, but security issues abound. The FTC report recommends building security into the devices from the outset. It also recommends full disclosure on any personal information being tracked. Companies should train their employees in security, and respond to security threats appropriately. Additionally, companies should limit the data they collect (this is a concept known as 'data minimization'). They're not recommending legislation at this point (it would be "premature") but as Ars Technica points out, the FTC has the option of civil suits to encourage compliance.

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