The staff of the Federal Trade Commission is interested in the consumer privacy and security issues posed by the growing connectivity of consumer devices, such as cars, appliances, and medical devices, and invites comments on these issues in advance of a public workshop to be held on November 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
The ability of everyday devices to communicate with each other and with people is becoming more prevalent and often is referred to as “The Internet of Things.” Consumers already are able to use their mobile phones to open their car doors, turn off their home lights, adjust their thermostats, and have their vital signs, such as blood pressure, EKG, and blood sugar levels, remotely monitored by their physicians. In the not too distant future, consumers approaching a grocery store might receive messages from their refrigerator reminding them that they are running out of milk.
Connected devices can communicate with consumers, transmit data back to companies, and compile data for third parties such as researchers, health care providers, or even other consumers, who can measure how their product usage compares with that of their neighbors. The devices can provide important benefits to consumers: they can handle tasks on a consumer’s behalf, improve efficiency, and enable consumers to control elements of their home or work environment from a distance. At the same time, the data collection and sharing that smart devices and greater connectivity enable pose privacy and security risks.
FTC staff seeks input on the privacy and security implications of these developments. For example:
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc