The FTC yesterday put out a request for comment on the consumer privacy and security issues posed by the "Internet of Things." As the FTC explains:
The ability of everyday devices to communicate with each other and with
people is becoming more prevalent and often is referred to as "The
Internet of Things." Consumers already are able to use their mobile
phones to open their car doors, turn off their home lights, adjust their
thermostats, and have their vital signs, such as blood pressure, EKG,
and blood sugar levels, remotely monitored by their physicians. In the
not too distant future, consumers approaching a grocery store might
receive messages from their refrigerator reminding them that they are
running out of milk.
Connected devices can communicate with consumers, transmit data back to
companies, and compile data for third parties such as researchers,
health care providers, or even other consumers, who can measure how
their product usage compares with that of their neighbors. The devices
can provide important benefits to consumers: they can handle tasks on a
consumer’s behalf, improve efficiency, and enable consumers to control
elements of their home or work environment from a distance. At the
same time, the data collection and sharing that smart devices and
greater connectivity enable pose privacy and security risks.
Comments on the privacy and security implications of these developments are due June 1. The FTC has scheduled a public workshop on the topic for November 21, 2013, in Washington, DC.