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Lee Tien, Senior Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, takes issue, however, with the notion that connected devices raise fundamentally new issues. “The Internet of Things is an evolutionary step. Yes, the data being shared is more intimate, and with health devices there is now a physical risk to security breaches. But the big issue is that there is a lot more data moving around than consumers know about. And that was true 10 years ago. Location tracking presents the same issues when used in wearable sensors as it has in smartphones. The threat models are fairly similar.”

Tien is quick to point out that heavy-handed regulation of the Internet is not the answer either. “A downside of over-regulation is the backlash it then creates for any type of government restrictions down the road.” Tien would like to see a great deal more transparency from the industry. He points specifically to a California law requiring a company’s privacy policies to be made available to the general public, not just its customers. “No one expects consumers to read them,” says Tien, “but what public disclosure says to companies is that privacy advocates and the FTC can read them. That’s a good thing.”

Sunday, November 24, 2013

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