Little Things and Big Challenges: Information Privacy and the Internet of Things
48 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 1, 2017
The Internet of Things (IoT), the wireless connection of devices to ourselves, each other, and the Internet, has transformed our lives and our society in unimaginable ways. Today, billions of electronic devices and sensors collect, store, and analyze personal information from how fast we drive, to how fast our hearts beat, to how much and what we watch on TV. Even children provide billions of bits of personal information to the cloud through “smart” toys that capture images, recognize voices, and more. The unprecedented and unbridled new information flow generated from the little things of the IoT is creating big challenges for privacy regulators. Traditional regulators are armed with conventional tools not fully capable of handling the privacy challenges of the IoT.
A critical review of recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement decisions sheds light on a recommended path for the future regulation of the IoT. This Article first examines the pervasiveness of the IoT and the data it collects in order to clarify the challenges facing regulators. It also highlights traditional privacy laws, principles, and regulations and explains why those rules do not fit the novel challenges and issues resulting from the IoT. Then it presents an in-depth analysis of four key FTC enforcement decisions to highlight how the FTC has and can regulate the IoT without undermining the innovation and benefits that this technology — and the data it provides — brings to our society.
Keywords: information privacy, technology, ftc, cybersecurity, privacy, internet of things, copyright, intellectual property
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