Politico reports that the Federal Trade Commission is delving into the “Internet of Things,” which is a computerized network of physical objects. In IoT, sensors and data storage devices embedded in objects interact with Web services. (For more on privacy and the IoT, see a Center for Democracy and Technology report that I consulted on and contributed to, “Building the Digital Out-Of-Home Privacy Infrastructure.”)
As an array of everyday objects such as thermostats, toasters and even sneakers gets connected to the Internet, the FTC is taking a first stab at examining this vast and emerging area of technology, sparking concern from trade groups that fear regulation could harm innovation.
The Federal Trade Commission is due to hold a workshop on the so-called Internet of Things next week as it begins to sort out how existing privacy and security laws apply to next-generation devices that collect streams of data on users. The daylong event is widely seen as the agency’s effort to establish a foothold in this largely unregulated piece of the Internet economy that is transforming a wide variety of industries. […]
The world of Internet-connected appliances is rapidly expanding and today encompasses everything from smart scales that help consumers track weight loss to connected refrigerators that tell owners when their milk is about to expire. There are even forks that can track how quickly you eat and how long you spend chewing between bites.
Other members of FTC appear to support the effort to tackle privacy and security standards in the emerging category. Commissioners Julie Brill and Maureen Ohlhausen have addressed the topic in remarks this year. Brill said in a recent interview she’s hopeful the FTC will be able to agree on a set of best practices following the workshop. […]
Examining the new world of Internet-connected devices is a logical step for an agency that has increasingly focused on privacy and security issues, said Chris Wolf, an attorney with Hogan Lovells and a founder of the Washington-based Future of Privacy Forum. He said the agency already has the tools it needs to grapple with this new field.