The Internet of Things is certainly making the lives of the citizens of IoL City easier, but at what cost?
Painting a Picture
The Internet of Things (IoT) allows IoL to collect tiny amounts of data in the form of various sensory states. Much like individual image pixels, when viewed in a vacuum, each of these micro data points has very little value. However, when many of those pixels, or in this case – individual data points, are aggregated, they combine together to provide a more complete profile of the IoL citizens.
From this profile, IoL may learn information about the IoL citizens from which it can form an understanding of their general routines and make further inferences about how they conduct their daily lives, such as:
- How many hours per day the IoL citizens sleep on average – based on how long their lights are turned off.
- How frequently the IoL citizens travel – based on the number of departures from the IoL City train station.
- Where do they spend their time – based on WiFi and other location aware systems.
As the community continues to grow and new advances in IoL’s technology emerge, the story that is created by these otherwise miniscule datapoints will begin to paint a very detailed picture of the lives of IoL citizens.
Erosion of Obscurity
Furthermore, many IoL citizen may consciously or subconsciously rely on a sense of privacy in the obscurity of these relatively uninteresting, micro data points. By creating a searchable database containing large sums of small, individual pieces of data, this sense of privacy the IoL citizens may have previously relied upon could be in jeopardy. The unrestrained ability to drill down on IoL’s dataset would potentially allow any person, government, or entity that gains access to such data the ability to identify individual IoL citizens for any and all purposes making these otherwise ignored or unnoticeable events recognizable with a few clicks.
The citizens of IoL City are rightly concerned about the use of their data in this new, emerging community.
How can IoL engender trust within the IoL community while fostering the continued adoption of IoT technology?
Obtaining the informed consent of IoL citizens when IoL collects their data, implementing reasonable security protocols, and providing for the confidentiality of the data IoL collects will be vital to creating a level of trust between IoL and the IoL citizens, which will be necessary for IoL’s continued development of IoL City.
To do this, IoL will practice the 7 foundational principles of Privacy by Design. Specifically, IoL will strive to meet the following objectives:
- IoL will be proactive in protecting the privacy of IoL citizens by anticipating privacy events before they occur;
- Information in IoL City will be treated as private by default, and IoL citizens will be offered the opportunity to make certain aspects of their data public when appropriate;
- Privacy features will be considered as a design element, rather than an afterthought, much in the same manner security features are traditionally incorporated into new technologies;
- IoL will attempt to acknowledge all legitimate interests, including security, commerce, and convenience, as well as the intellectual and emotional aspects of privacy to create a positive-sum environment within IoL City;
- IoL will strive to implement end-to-end security surrounding the handling of IoL citizens’ data;
- IoL will be transparent in its data collection and use;
- IoL will focus on the privacy interests of the individual IoL citizens as it continues to develop IoL City’s infrastructure.
By engaging in Privacy by Design, IoL will create a utopian community where the IoL citizens’ human (LEGO) rights are valued, their physical security is maintained, and their lives are made easier. Knowing this, the IoL citizens can now rest easy.
About the Author:
Meaghan Zore is a technology and data privacy advocate. She teaches Information Privacy Law at Indiana University McKinney School of Law and is a principal at Zore Law, a San Francisco law firm that provides legal services to entrepreneurs and emerging companies.