Privacy & the Age of Sensors: Preliminary Thoughts About Internet of Things Policies & Practices

7 Comments 07.13.10

I keep making blog posts and podcasts about the emerging world of sensor data (the Internet of Things) and alluding to the need to figure out privacy policies and considerations. I will allude no more! It’s time to start thinking explicitly about this stuff and drawing out the boundaries of our collective conversation about it. Before it’s too late!

This is an incredible opportunity but one that certainly carries some risk as well. Let’s see if we can leverage the tidal wave of data coming while protecting our personal privacy as well!

In case you’re not familiar with this concept, here’s a great primer video from IBM, one of the primary vendors in the Internet of Things market. Following that, you’ll find a podcast I recorded a few minutes ago while waiting for a bus home. Below that you’ll see the beginnings of a mind map on the topic. I’m doing some interviews and thinking this through for what I hope will be an important post on ReadWriteWeb soon. Your thoughts are more than welcome – they are humbly requested.

Intro to Internet of Things

My Thoughts So Far

Direct download
Randy Robertson left me a Cinch comment (on Cinch) suggesting that the medical industry could be a good model to learn from regarding patient data privacy. Sounds good.

In Mindmap Form


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  • http://lifeofaudrey.com Audrey

    “Primary vendor in the Internet of Things market” makes me cringe. Are we really to that point yet? Where’s the fun and experimentation?

    If you haven’t read Everyware (or Adam Greenfield’s work in general) he covers these topics quite extensively, including the need to make embedded/hidden systems visible to the user. It’s still the best framework I’ve seen for covering the privacy/use considerations involved.

    Also, he’s interested in finding a sponsor to do a ‘walkshop’ in Portland, where we’d go around and talk about embedded and networked systems already in our environment. More details here: http://speedbird.wordpress.com/2010/05/10/how-to-bring-a-systemslayers-walkshop-to-your-town/ I’d love to see RWW get involved with something like this. :)

  • Marshall

    Thank you Audrey. And thanks for calling me on the “primary vendor” language. But really, I was reading the New Yorker at New Seasons last night and there was a full page ad from IBM re security implications of internet of things. And their SmarterPlanet blog is the #1 source for news on the topic. So….

  • http://lifeofaudrey.com Audrey

    Ah, I see. It does span a bunch of different levels–from the commercial products you’re reading about, to the arduino and pachube experiments I’m thinking of. Whatever privacy/security/transparency framework we use needs to relate to the full range.

  • Marshall

    Great point Audrey, thanks.

  • http://speedbird.wordpress.com AG

    Thanks for the namecheck, Audrey. Marshall, I would respectfully suggest that if you’re looking to IBM to keep you informed about the so-called “Internet of Things,” you’re really missing the larger and more interesting picture. Google “Council + Internet of Things” and follow any of the dozens of people involved with that initiative and you’ll have a much truer and less skewed idea of what’s going on in this space.

    I would also point out that some of the most interesting work in the space is being done by folks who reject or simply do not use the “Internet of Things” language. But I suspect you’ll find that out for yourself. Good luck!

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