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IoT consumer technologies raise ethical questions

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While IoT technologies may be poised to take over markets like connected homes and smart cities, they are raising moral questions for data purveyors.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — While IoT technologies may be poised to upend how consumers live, even industry leaders are dumfounded by data security and ethics issues that loom large over the Internet of Things.

According to prognostications like Gartner’s, the Internet of Things (IoT) market is due to reach more than 26 billion connected devices by 2020 — and some estimates are twice that, at 50 billion. Even today, IoT devices have wrought data smog, a massive volume and velocity of data that companies now have to ingest, manage and analyze. According to some estimates, 10% of the world’s total data by 2020 will be generated by IoT devices.

IoT scenarios are making traditional security and identity management questions far more complex. There are deep concerns about ethical use of Internet of Things data  and how various entities will ethically and securely manage IoT consumer data. Companies, in turn, need to look down the road and consider their security and policy approach to IoT consumer technologies.

John Ellis, managing director at Ellis & Associates, raised tough questions for audience members at Internet of Things World. In an IoT-dominated universe, a connected home may become a place where citizens unknowingly have their voices and faces recorded without opting in. And in Europe, the right to be forgotten legislation has already challenged search engines like Google to decide whether they will remove information from search results that individual citizens deem “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.” IoT consumer data that makes its way to the Web and the cloud may pose similar concerns, as citizens have their data recorded in video streams, on wearable devices and elsewhere.

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