The Internet of Things (IoT) is an emerging technology set to define the next five to ten years. It will change the way people live their lives. Like with any new technology, there are a number of legal challenges it will have to deal with. And when something interacts so intimately with the world surrounding you it only makes sense that companies in this sector will have a number of legal considerations.
This guide is going to help you to understand some of the legal implications and why they have come about in the first place.
The number of incidents revolving around cyber fraud is rising, quickly. Web-enabled devices are like gateways to personal information. Many people argue that the IoT will only complicate this because even more devices will be able to connect to the Internet, therefore more people will be put at risk.
Criminals can now hack into your home network via Internet-enabled smart devices, as scientists have demonstrated. From there, they can make the jump to other devices on your home network and rob you of your credit card details.
The problem is that if someone does get hacked through a technology like this, it could lead to a ton of legal cases. People will want compensation because they got hacked. It demonstrates that the IoT must come with some form of firewall to keep hackers out, and it must be updated regularly.
In many ways, the IoT opens up a whole new legal area, and manufacturers must take it seriously.
What About Tracking?
The IoT will bring devices that are capable of tracking data. Everyone knows that European and US law are constantly unable to keep up with the evolving world of technology, and so laws are often outdated. Just look at how long it took them to take into account cookies as an example.
So what will happen when it comes to tracking?
There will be strong concerns regarding how companies will be able to track activities within the home. They will have to walk a fine line between invading privacy and extracting information designed to make products better.
Businesses will have the right to extract certain types of data. There will be a compromise when the IoT hits the mainstream. Companies will have a duty to protect this data, as they already do when running online businesses.
If companies want to retain the trust of their customers and grow their followings in a natural way to help them beat out their competitors, they will have to have policies that provide assurances over data protection. Furthermore, there could be severe legal payouts if they lose such information, or a hacker manages to see it.
There will need to be a consolidated lexicon in relation to the type of data collected, where it’s stored, and how companies will be able to use it. In order to encourage customers to take up this new technology, corporations will have to limit the collection of so-called ‘irrelevant’ data.
How Will Governments Act?
"The legal system is notorious for falling behind the evolution of technology, especially when it comes to Internet security," says Cindy Best, CEO of Best Law. "However, many governments are actively investing in the IoT to build it themselves. This may be one scenario where governments don’t fall behind. They may very well be leading the way this time."
But the legal issues here revolve around how governments will work together. The IoT is something that is guaranteed to cross the world, and so if there are radically different laws it could cause legal conflicts between manufacturers and customers.
The main areas governments will be asked to consider include:
- Law enforcement
But when will any of this actually become relevant?
It shouldn’t take long before it does become part of the fabric of society. The IoT is already making major gains. There are already smart devices that allow you to control things like your central heating system remotely. Things like that are already here and the legal system is going to have to move fast if it’s going to keep up.