IoT: Industry must put safeguards in place, says FTC chief

Speaking at CES 2015 in Las Vegas, FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez has spoken of the potential privacy issues surrounding the Internet of Things

With the Internet of Things taking centre stage at CES in Las Vegas week, the chair of the US Federal Trade Commission has warned of the potential misuse of unnecessary data collection.

Speaking at the event, Edith Ramirez said that the IoT posed a clear threat to privacy if the companies behind the tech continued to mine data that stretched beyond the functions of the devices.

“In the not too distant future, many, if not most, aspects of our everyday lives will leave a digital trail,” Ramirez said. “That data trove will contain a wealth of revealing information that, when patched together, will present a deeply personal and startlingly complete picture of each of us – one that includes details about our financial circumstances, our health, our religious preferences, and our family and friends.”

Recent research from Accenture revealed that while demand for mobiles and tablets in developed markets was beginning to slow, the IoT is only just getting started.

So much so that Nvidia dedicated its entire CES press conference to the new Tegra X1 chip, which it is aiming exclusively at car manufacturers. Indeed, all the major players seem to be putting a growing number of eggs in the IoT basket.

Ramirez accepts that this new world of technology is potentially valuable. “To be sure, these potential benefits are immense,“ she said, adding “But so too are the potential risks.”

“I question the notion that we must put sensitive consumer data at risk on the off-chance a company might someday discover a valuable use for the information.”


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