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IoT is Going to Steal All Your Stuff

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IoT is Going to Steal All Your Stuff

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Well, not steal your stuff exactly, but quietly and invisibly shift ownership of some of your prized possessions to somebody else. In other words, as IoT grows and connected devices become more and more ubiquitous, you'll own an increasing supply of snazzy electronic toys, but the maker of your toys may ultimately have more control over them than you do.

That's the central idea of Jon Evans' recent piece on TechCrunch: ownership in the time of IoT is not as simple as "who is holding that object." According to Evans, IoT ownership is a "three-legged stool":

...who physically owns a thing; who legally owns it; …and who has the ultimate power to command it. Who, in short, has root.

The problem, as Evans points out, is that the consumer generally does not have the ultimate power to command it. You may not have control, for example, over what data is being sent to central servers regarding your use - functionality can be added or removed without your consent. Video gamers may have experienced something along these lines already, for example: a purchase is made based on multiplayer gameplay, but six years down the line, the game's servers shut down. That wasn't a concern in the NES days.

Evans points to some ideas outside of the "central server" setup, which may allow users to have more control over the things they own. Ultimately, though, he suggests that it's just a cautious approach to IoT that we need:

As someone who often argues that capitalism needs to evolve as technology remakes our societies and economies, I’m not necessarily opposed to a subtle redefinition of “ownership.” But I don’t want it to come to mean “transferring de facto control over every interesting thing in my possession to distant corporations.” Bring on an open, decentralized Internet Of Things, eventually. The Stacks control quite enough already.

Check out Evans' full post for all the details.

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