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The Internet of Things

Amy Praskac - Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices—such as vehicles and home appliances, to name but two examples—embedded with sensors and network connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data (emphasis added). Experts estimate the IoT will consist of about 30 billion objects by 2020.

What are the privacy implications of your devices sharing data? 

According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), protecting consumer privacy becomes increasingly difficult as the IoT becomes more prevalent. Control of the devices and control of data are both at stake.

Control is lost if your smartphone or computer is hacked.

You also lose control of what happens to your personal data as companies collect data about users and their patterns. Your data is a salable commodity and becomes more valuable when various sources are combined to provide a fuller picture of your personal activities.

For example, hacking is possible from any geographic location because of the internet. Someone can charge purchases to your credit card or steal your identity from thousands of miles away.

As another example, have you ever been on your phone browsing prior to purchasing shoes and subsequently notice ads about shoes when you log into your social media account on your laptop? Targeted advertising is possible because of the connectivity between our devices.

 “A lot of people think about privacy but don’t really care until something happens to them personally,” said Beth Givens, director of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. “It’s like freedom. You don’t appreciate it until it’s gone. If you are a victim of identity theft, you experience a change of world view, you realize how little control you have over your world.”

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