the "Internet of Things"
To many, "The Internet of Things," a predicted, transformative moment in time when nearly all “things” in the physical world will be interconnected, wirelessly, with communication capabilities linking the physical and virtual worlds for a variety of cooperative applications, is a distant point in the future. To others, the internet of things is now.
Physical Things to Virtual Things
The European Union (EU), representing twenty-seven member states, has expressed grave concerns about the privacy implications of an unregulated internet and unchecked technology.
Responding to the privacy concerns it perceived as being presented by the "the Internet of Things", the EU, in 2009, adopted a fourteen-point strategic plan of action:
14-point Strategic Action Plan
1. Governance. The Commission will work on the definition of a set of principles underlying the governance of the Internet of Things and the design of an architecture endowed with a sufficient level of decentralised management.
2. Privacy and data protection. The Commission will observe carefully the application of data protection legislation to the Internet of Things.
3. The right to the "silence of the chips". The Commission will launch a debate about whether individuals should be able to disconnect from their networked environment at any moment. Citizens should be able to read basic RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Devices) tags – and destroy them too – to preserve their privacy. Such rights are likely to become more important as RFID and other wireless technologies become small enough to be invisible.
Under the Commission’s framework, RFID operators would be required to complete a four-step Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) process prior to introducing a new RFID application into the market:
2. Identify and list how the RFID Application under review could threaten privacy and estimate the magnitude and likelihood of those risks;
So what is the most significant impact of the framework? Privacy? Perhaps not. Instead, the real significance of the framework may have been captured in an observation made in the official press release from the signing, namely, that the framework will give the business sector the “legal certainty that the use of their tags is compatible with European privacy legislation.” In other words, the framework gives private stakeholders the green light to continue full-steam ahead with their already massive investment in RFID technologies and the “internet of things” it heralds.
Why might industry leaders have been concerned about limitations on RFID technologies? The EU has also just reaffirmed its commitment to "Privacy by Default" as the core of its data protection laws. So Europeans are now given "the right to be forgotten" online and the right to be remembered in real life...
Your pants may be doing the same.
According to the commission, one concern the new Framework seeks to address is “the possibility of a third party accessing your personal data (e.g., concerning your location) without your permission.” How could that happen? Well, the pants you just bought might come with a small, RFID tag that has an “electronic memory that is readable and perhaps writable, and antennae.”
What are your thoughts? Please let me know!