NEWS5 June 2013

FTC workshop to examine the ‘internet of things’

North America Technology

US — The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is to hold a public workshop in November on the privacy implications of the “internet of things”.

The workshop aims to help the FTC get to grips with this new smart, connected eco-system: to understand the types of companies and technologies operating in the space, how consumers can benefit, and what the privacy risks are.

“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,” says the FTC.

“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.”

In comments submitted ahead of the workshop, the Centre for Digital Democracy (CDD) said: “The commission has lagged in developing the privacy and consumer safeguards necessary to protect consumers from the array of contemporary services that now closely follow and analyse them throughout their daily lives.”

CDD said it’s “convinced” that the connected future has already arrived, “driven by advances in mobile, geo-location applications, increasingly sophisticated facial recognition systems, digital signage applications, offline and online data tracking and targeting, and the attendant growth of ‘advanced advertising’.”