FTC Seeks Comment on Issues Raised at Internet of Things Workshop #00005

Submission Number:
David Lewis
Initiative Name:
FTC Seeks Comment on Issues Raised at Internet of Things Workshop
Matter Number:


There is enormous value, both for individuals and for society as a whole, from the affordances of the emerging Internet of Things. There are concommitant opportunities for abuse. As a computer engineer of more than forty years standing, I am familiar with both. It goes almost without saying that any IoT standards must include strong encryption as a mandatory feature at the most basic physical level. Anyone who can monitor the lights in my house, as a trivial example, already knows enough about my comings and goings to burgle me. The encryption must be done in such a way as to be easily extended as existing technologies become vulnerable, as they quickly will. Beyond that, history tells us that we must assume the safeguards we put in place will be circumvented. The surrounding regulatory environment must, therefore, make it possible for citizens to understand when this happens, and to correct or remove information collected from them. Since that information must be assumed to have commercial value, or no one would have bothered to steal it, the companies involved will be reluctant to allow this provision. Legal and technical safeguards, both to allow this to occur and to keep it from being done fraudulently, must be put into place quite early to overcome this resistence and to foster the trust in the system that will be critical in order that the benefits of the IoT may be realized. Finally, as Jaron Lanier has compellingly argued in his book "Who Owns the Future?", information aggregated from large numbers of users will have enormous value. To keep this value from simply accruing gratis to whoever owns the biggest data centers, the underlying standards must make it possible to track the source of the information and use the emerging technologies for micro-payments to recompense its authors. I strongly recommend a scan of the referenced book for those unfamiliar with it, since Lanier is far smarter and more articulate than I am, and the book supplies vastly more detail than this forum can accommodate.