keeping you and your family safe

​​According to the Federal Trade Commission, the term “Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the ability of everyday objects to connect to the Internet and to send and receive data. It includes… Internet-connected cameras that allow you to post pictures online with a single click; home automation systems that turn on your front porch light when you leave work; and bracelets that share with your friends how far you have biked or run during the day.” Essentially any device that transmits data through the Internet or require an app to operate is part of the Internet of Things.

Why should you care? Because just about everything electronic that you own is already, or soon will be, connected to the Internet. There are currently an estimated 25 billion Internet of Things devices. By 2020 it will be 50 billion. Your car, your television, your video game system, and your phone are all collecting data on your usage habits. If you have any voice controlled devices, they are listening to you and recording activity. Who owns this information? Who has access to it? What are your legal rights? Nobody is quite sure. The Internet of Things is unexplored legal ground.

Governments and lawyers around the world are trying to figure out the rules. A Senate committee approved the Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act to bring together government agencies and industry stakeholders to figure out how to facilitate the IoT takeover. Lawyers specializing in international law are attempting to hash out ownership of the fruits of IoT when multiple companies from different countries collaborate in the development of IoT products.

A January 2015 Federal Trade Commission Report on the Internet of Things makes clear that the IoT industry must be regulated, but it is unclear exactly how. Areas of concern include data security, data minimization, and “notice and choice.” Essentially consumers should be confident that unauthorized people can’t gain access to their IoT data, that companies with access to the data don’t collect more than necessary for legitimate purposes, that they can decide which data to share, and that they will be notified if their data was inappropriately accessed.

Keep in mind that these are broad recommendations. We are years away from definitive regulation or significant legal precedent. Until that time, you should be very wary of all your Internet enabled devices. Keep in mind that if it communicates through the Internet, it is recording how you use it, when you use it, and your personal preferences. It is also unclear who your devices are sharing your information with and what they are doing with it. 

Accumulating this data can track your whereabouts and activities throughout the day. Your IoT devices know when you are away from home. In fact, the geolocation on many apps reveal exactly where you are at all times. They know who your friends are, how fast you drive, and even your medical information. Cameras and microphones on your smartphone can be activated and record you without your knowledge. If you are concerned about sharing any of this information, you may want to unplug some of your IoT devices for now.

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internet of things

All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.