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Privacy and the Internet of Things by Gilad Rosner

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Privacy Risks of the IoT

Now that we’ve reviewed some definitions of the IoT and explored the concept of privacy, let’s examine some specifics more closely. This section identifies six privacy risks suggested by the increasing number of networked, sensing devices in the human environment.

Enhanced Monitoring

The chief privacy risk implied by a world of sensing, connected devices is greater monitoring of human activity. Context awareness through enhanced audio, video, location data, and other forms of detection is touted as a central value of the IoT. No doubt, important and helpful new services will be enabled by such detection, but the privacy implication is clear: you will be under observation by your machines and devices you do not control. Certainly, this exists in the world today—public CCTV, private security cameras, MAC address detection, location data capture from phones, Bluetooth beacons, license plate readers... the list is quite long, and growing. The human world is highly monitored so the issue becomes one of scale. Perhaps such monitoring is a condition of modern life; that observation by both the state and the private sector are core features of the social landscape.30 This, then, is a central reason why “the right to be let alone” is a prominent value within privacy discourse.

When American lawyers Warren and Brandeis proposed this right in 1890, it was in response to the appearance of a new technology—photography (Figure 4-1). They saw the potential for photography ...

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