FTC Releases Report and Practical Advice on the Internet of Things

On January 27, 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a staff report entitled “Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World.” This report suggests steps businesses can take to protect consumers’ privacy and security as they use objects that connect and send data to the Internet.

InternetOfThings-01The FTC Staff Report defines the Internet of Things (IoT) as “the ability of everyday objects to connect to the Internet and to send and receive data.” Examples of such objects are bracelets that track fitness activities and share the data with friends, cameras that post pictures online, RFID tags to monitor inventory, and home automation systems to monitor lights, temperature and security and report to homeowners when they are away. In health care, such objects include medical devices that monitor vital signs and other patient data, such as insulin pumps and blood pressure cuffs, and then share this data with physicians and caregivers. Basically, the IoT is “essentially any other Internet-connected device that isn’t a mobile phone, tablet, or traditional computer.”

The number of “things” connected to the Internet is greater than the number of people, and, as of this year, there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet. But this increased connectivity comes with increased privacy and security risks. First, financial and personal data stored on these devices can be stolen. Second, when the objects are connected to a network, security vulnerabilities in the objects may Continue reading