The potential benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been promoted extensively within the media. Previously, innate objects such as your fridge or shirt, will soon have a chip embedded in them and be able to interact with each other. The benefits to our everyday lives will apparently be exponential, the most important of which will most certainly be in the healthcare industry and devices that enhance our personal safety.
The internet of things functions not only within individual items, but as part of a network of tiny devices, home computers and large servers. Throughout this network, lies a wide range of interests that concern people in conflicting ways. However, it seems that ubiquitous communication between the things we buy will benefit us. But, it is also known that big businesses and the government are using computer systems to accumulate data.
This is all part of what is called the “surveillance state.” Surveillance is carried out in the name of national security by pretty much every global nation and is nothing new. However, what has changed following the digital revolution is the capacity for the collecting and storing information.
While it is illegal for the U.S. government to collect data relating to someone’s personal communications without a warrant, it is legal to collect the metadata from the networks which contains individuals IP addresses and location data, which can even reveal how long we have spent in a certain place and the websites we visit.
With the advent of the RFID chip came the capacity to build the internet of things and the chips can be placed into just about anything. If IoT becomes as big as predicted, it’s inevitable that large amounts of data pertaining to the behavior of individuals within society will be collected, analyzed and stored by anyone with the capability to do so. It will be used not only to see how we are, but predict how we are evolving as consumers and citizens.
The issue is that networked technologies are evolving at a much faster pace than legislature can keep up with, making the first phase of the IoT digital revolution wide open for exploitation. It is undoubted that digital technology can enhance our lives in wonderful ways if we are open to it, but it must be received with the caveat that individuals must lobby to protect any aspect of their identity that is being exploited. While some tech companies are very involved in regards to protecting our data, the IoT revolution is happening too quickly to be able to guarantee “absolute privacy,” to which some may argue there is no absolute right.