FTC Chair: More Security Needed for Internet of Things
As the so-called Internet of Things gains speed—some top-level printers already order their own ink cartridges and refrigerators have technology to enable purchases—Congress will have to craft laws to protect consumer security and privacy, says Federal Trade Commission Chair Edith Ramirez.
As appliances, cars and other devices become increasingly connected, the risk increases that criminals will manage to introduce malware into those systems to steal personal data or even perform malicious acts—for instance, via health-related mobile apps—she recently told an audience at the American Bar Association’s Section on the Internet of Things National Institute in Washington, D.C.
“We need to do a much better job of navigating the IoT landscape,” Ramirez said. “We need to safeguard the most personal aspects of our lives.” To highlight the danger, she said that even a home with only a modest connection to the Web via appliances and devices—including baby monitors—can produce 150 million discrete data points per day.
Ramirez urged device designers to create technology that protects consumers against criminal use of that data. “Many IoT devices are small and disposable,” she said, suggesting that many manufacturers might not put enough money to securing those devices.
She urged the industry to take such steps as reducing the amount of data used in such systems to reduce risk—for instance, collecting ZIP codes, not “precise geolocations” of consumers—and giving consumers “clear and simple” notice about how their data will be used, and how to opt out of sharing that data with marketers and other parties. Consumers might not want their connected thermostats, for instance, to share their email addresses with advertisers who would target marketing messages based on home heating and cooling data.
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