Refrigerators that tell you you're out of milk, cars that
warn of an imminent collision, implants that know if you've
taken your medicine—by tying almost anything into a wireless
network, the "Internet of Things" promises to transform
several industries. Yet in the eyes of regulators and lawmakers,
the IoT presents new risks ranging from privacy and security
breaches to catastrophic system failures.
Regulators in the U.S. and EU are particularly concerned that
IoT devices could collect and disseminate personal information
without users' consent—an issue they're already
worried about when it comes to mobile phone apps, says
Alistair Maughan, a London partner and co-chair of the
Technology Transactions Group at Morrison & Foerster. Both
the IoT itself and any potential regulatory frameworks are in their
infancy. But tech companies may want to get ahead of the issue by
monitoring public statements by regulators on the IoT, including
speeches by FTC commissioners and the EU's Commission's
2013 report on the IoT. "To future-proof your design,
you'll want to consider legal and regulatory ramifications very
early in the process," Maughan says. "And you may want to
focus on approaches that will work in the maximum number of
Keywords: FTC, internet, Internet of Things,
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