We are beginning to see the next big thing in Internet-related
innovation. From Fitbit to Google Glass, the so-called
'Internet of Things', or the 'IoT', is poised to
revolutionise the way we interact with the world. Basically, the
IoT involves any 'thing' and every 'thing'
connected to the Internet (and/or to other things and people) that
allows the transfer of information without the need for personal
computers. These wirelessly networked 'things' collect
data, monitor activities and customise a user's experience to
whatever their needs or desires.
This innovate leap in consumer technology will present
significant headaches for Australia's legislature and judiciary
– in particular its potential to rapidly disrupt
long-standing social and legal norms with respect to privacy.
However, it is easy to forget that while privacy protection is
important, so too is innovation, entrepreneurialism, economic
growth, price competition, and consumer choice. Finding the
'Goldilocks Zone' for regulating the IoT is a delicate
predicament confronted by lawmakers.
On one hand, many commentators advocate for tight, immediate
preemptive regulation against the IoT on the basis that the mere
potential for breaches of privacy warrants an urgent response.
Further, it is argued that the longer lawmakers take to act against
the IoT, the harder it will be to act. One of the issues with
breaches of privacy is that, like defamation, once it has been
committed, it cannot be undone. In this respect, it is best to try
to protect one's privacy rather than remedy any breach. On the
other hand, the issue with overly precautious regulation is that it
aims to predict the future and its hypothetical problems, which may
or may not ever materialise. The consequence of such preemptive
regulation is that it risks unnecessarily limiting innovations that
may yield new and better ways of doing things.
While Australia's privacy laws are inadequate to deal with
the rise of the IoT and need significant updates, lawmakers should
not quash incentives for further innovation
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Concerns about privacy and data control are often cited as major impediments to the growth and wide adoption of Cloud.
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