The Internet of Things: Whose Data Is It Anyway?

The Internet of Things allows us to do some very remarkable things with the Internet—things that, up to now, have been limited to the realm of science fiction.  A smart home surveillance system, for example, lets the homeowner check on their domicile from anywhere, so long as they have an Internet connection. A smart refrigerator can keep track of how much foodstuff is left inside it, and send an e-mail to its owner informing them of what needs to be bought on the next grocery trip. A smart health tracker keeps tabs on its owner’s vital signs and physical activity, in order for the owner and their doctor to make better decisions regarding the user's health and well-being. Truly, the Internet of Things isn’t just the future--it’s already here, and ready to be leveraged by anyone who needs it.

Of course, as convenient as the Internet of Things is (and the boom of smart devices that it gave birth to), it’s not without its share of considerations. All the functions above involve a particular commodity that we often take for granted in this hyper-connected world: information. Specifically, our personal information, such as the kind of house we have, or what our diet is like, or what our current health status is. All of these and more are being sent over the net, not only to and from our devices, but also to the companies who handle the data.

The consideration, therefore, is this: what do these manufacturers and service providers do with our personal information? It’d be great if they just kept it for the prosaic purpose of the service/product they’re providing, but most keep it and use it for other purposes, often without our knowing. Some even sell them to third-party businesses—businesses that usually are only tangentially-related to their service. And this could create a lot of problems for us, as cybercriminals are always on the hunt for personal information to the point that they’re breaching big companies in order to steal it.

What should be done, then? Trend Micro CTO Raimund Genes shares his ideas on how companies can better and more responsibly treat their users’ data in the video below.


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