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U.S. gets warnings and advice about the Internet of Things

Patrick Thibodeau | June 8, 2016
The IoT can be a force for good and evil, say papers.

Vendors can make individual devices secure, but once users start assembling a variety of devices to create a "composable" infrastructure, there is "no certainty" that any security, safety and privacy protections will remain, said the Association of Computer Machinery.

The ABA saw IoT benefits as well, such as employer-mandated wearable devices that may improve long-term health of employees and reduce employers' healthcare costs, but "could enable discrimination against employees who are physically disabled, suffer from certain diseases or conditions, or simply do not have the time to exercise because of family or other obligations."

Similar to the debate that began with ecommerce, privacy advocates want the government to enact laws that protect individuals.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center said the IoT can become a way for businesses to learn a customer's "consumption, activity patterns, associations, lifestyle, age, income, gender, race, and health -- information with potential commercial value."

But businesses want any issues addressed through "self-regulatory frameworks, open standards and competition," wrote IBM.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said there is a need for interoperability. "A vehicle must be able to communicate with vehicles from other manufacturers when it is first sold or leased, but also with vehicles sold or leased many years later," the industry group wrote.

The IoT has implications for the communications infrastructure as well.

Coverage for consumer devices "is determined by population -- where the people are," said AT&T. "In contrast, IoT solutions can drive coverage requirements to just about anywhere, particularly in the case of remote monitoring applications."

Spectrum access is a major issue. Fashion Innovation Alliance said there is need for "greater amounts of unlicensed spectrum for Wi-Fi as the number of IoT products continues to increase, especially for fashion tech."


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