Privacy Concerns and the Internet of Things

Wearable technology is fast becoming part of the “Internet of Things” theme that was current at CES 2014. Below are just a few of the wearable technologies that have recently been announced

· Google recently announced that they are working on contact lenses that are able to monitor a spike in glucose levels via the tears produced by our eyes.

· Sony has created a ‘life blogger’, which monitors all aspects of your health and ensures that you are aware of what is lacking in your nutrition and health. The younger generation, as Sony admitted, are more liable to share the majority of their data than the older generation.

· Oral B recently announced a Bluetooth toothbrush that would gather data on your brushing habits and would share this information with your dentist.

· Google bought Nest Labs and while there was shock at the price tag; the company primarily makes and sells thermostats and people took to Twitter to share their concerns regarding privacy.

It is possible that not only will Google and Facebook know what we prefer based on our clicking, swiping and likes bitcoin mixer on web pages, but they will also know how we feel about products and experiences in those moments we don’t have access to our smartphones or tablets. You can actually imagine it; walking past your favourite store (a gadget store in my case), and the latest wearable fitness tech senses an increase in your heartbeat. This information synced with your location could be analysed and allow companies to determine how to advertise to you in an even more precise manner. Purchasing could possibly not even become a choice anymore and become something that is embedded in the layers of our subconscious!

There are several questions that would need to be answered before this technology was in use. Such as, how will companies use the data that will inevitably be collected? How will this data be stored? How will it be protected? We are used to targeted ads online but will the same type of ads blight our shopping trips? Can that much data even be protected? After all, MtGox lost nearly half a billion worth of Bitcoins and Target was famously hacked successfully before Christmas 2013 compromising almost 70 million customers’ data.

We are all becoming connected in one way or another and cloud computing/solutions will provide that connection in real time. IBM’s “cloud of cloud” proposed service would ensure that all data should, in theory, be fiercely protected and will be able to move the data across other cloud platforms in real time.

This technology will be an innovation in becoming hack proof but with innovations abound in ensuring data protection; are we actually ready for so much data being collected from the things we purchase and it being stored? What do we make of having a ‘Bill of Rights’ that was suggested by Tim Berners-Lee recently? Data and privacy are fast becoming points of discussion that need to be addressed in an open way!


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