Legal, social and human rights challenges of the Internet of Things in Australia
Input paper for the Horizon Scanning Project “The Internet of Things” on behalf of the Australian Council of Learned Academies, www.acola.org
29 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2019 Last revised: 11 Mar 2021
Date Written: September 30, 2019
The emergence of the IoT and related technologies has already brought about significant sociotechnical change, and this is likely to continue. This change brings with it some significant benefits for society, particular in the areas of: assisting those with disabilities live more independent lives; in healthcare; in aged care; and in more efficient and sustainable infrastructure, transport, industry and agriculture. However, with this change has come the potential for ‘regulatory disconnection’, that is, where existing regulatory frameworks become disconnected from societal expectations due to the new things, behaviours and relationships made possible by emerging technologies. While the IoT may lead to benefits in our daily lives, people (particularly individuals) are exposed to a number of risks by the use of the IoT and related technologies, ranging from disclosure of private information, unwanted surveillance by the state and by corporate interests, physical injury, harassment and stalking, defects in the devices themselves, and risks to human rights, such as the potential for discrimination and barriers to the right to freedom of expression. Australia has no specific laws aimed at addressing IoT issues, and current laws intended to protect customers and citizens have gaps and uncertainties when dealing with the IoT and related technologies.
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