The people with really cool glasses and fancier gadgets than the rest of us call it "the Internet of Things" — the fact that everyday devices are starting to communicate with each other and with us. Already we can use a smartphone to start the car, turn on the AC before we get home, and have the doctor monitor the trajectory of our blood pressure in traffic. But what if when we drive near a grocery store, our refrigerator lets us know we’re low on milk? Would that be convenient? Disconcerting? Or maybe a little bit of both? That's what we're talking about and we'd like hear what you're discussing around the national water cooler.
In preparation for a workshop in Washington, D.C., on November 19, 2013, FTC staff is asking for your comments about the next age of connectivity. Technologies like this can make daily tasks a lot more convenient, but are there consumer privacy and data security issues that should be considered, too? Here are some of the questions we hope you’ll weigh in on:
- What’s next in connectivity? What products and services are on the horizon?
- Are there particular kinds of technology that serve as useful case studies for the issues we should be talking about?
- How is all this connecting coming about? RFID? Barcodes? Wireless?
- Who’s who in the smart ecosystem? What kinds of companies are taking the lead?
- How are consumers benefitting from smart technology?
- Are there unique privacy and security concerns associated with smart technology and the data collected?
- How should privacy risks be weighed against potential benefits? Can and should de-identified data be used for other purposes like healthcare decision making or energy efficiency? Why? Why not? Discuss among yourselves.
“Battlestar Galactica” fans can relax. We’re not talking about the Revenge of the Cylons here. But we think there are questions that merit a frank discussion.
So please give some thought to the topics you'd like to see on the agenda at the workshop and email your suggestions to IoT@ftc.gov by June 1st. (That's I-o-T as in Internet of Things.) And mark your calendar for the November 19th.