Federal Government Considers possible Regulation of the IoT

November 24, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a public workshop on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 in Washington, DC, to explore consumer privacy and security issues posed by the growing connectivity of devices. The ability of everyday devices to communicate with each other and with people is becoming more prevalent and often is referred to as The Internet of Things (IoT). Connected devices can communicate with consumers, transmit data back to companies, and compile data for third parties such as researchers, health care providers, or even other consumers, who can measure how their product usage compares with that of their neighbors.

The workshop brought together academics, business and industry representatives, and consumer advocacy groups to explore the security and privacy issues in this changing world. It was one of the FTC’s first steps in a process to decide whether (how) to regulate the emerging IoT. The workshop primarily focused on privacy and security issues related to increased connectivity for consumers, both in the home (including home automation, smart home appliances and connected devices), and when consumers are on the move (including health and fitness devices, personal devices, and cars). Additional workshops and hearings are expected to be held in the near future.