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The Internet of Risky Things by Sean Smith

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Chapter 9. The Digital Divide and the IoT

The IoC already exacerbates class differences. Can we keep the IoT from doing the same?

The dawn of the web (and the original Internet of Computers) introduced concerns about the digital divide: how this new technology might amplify class differences, particularly because education and affluence appeared to be necessary to get on board in the first place. By reaching into more aspects of life and even into basic physical infrastructure, the IoT may also increase digital division. This chapter will consider:

  • How digital divides emerged in the IoC

  • How digital divides may continue in the IoT

  • How digital divides may emerge when IT is required to support basic rights

  • How IoT applications may enforce preexisting socioeconomic divides

  • How IoT applications may create divides even among connected classes

How Digital Divides Emerged in the IoC

I remember the dawn of the web. Through the distorted lens of hindsight, it’s easy to wax lyrical about the sudden emergence of pervasive client browsers, the common HTTP protocol—and the electricity as we all realized that this ability for ordinary citizens and enterprises to start exchanging information and interacting would change everything. Fast-forward now a quarter century, and one could add the conclusion: “See, we were right—it did change everything.”

To some extent, these stories are true. At the beginning, there was an electric excitement—and I even had the chance, as a government security ...

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