Big Data and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is about wirelessly gathering information from such things.  A definition from an article in InfoWorld:

It its heart, IoT is a wide-ranging ecosystem of everyday physical objects connected to the Internet, capable of identifying themselves and communicating data to other objects on the network.

RFID tags and the like have been around for a long time.  Why should we care?

Because it’s going to increase the data collection, data security and privacy issues we have – a lot. 

In the InfoWorld article, there is this quote from Mike Redding, managing director at Accenture Technology Labs:

Social media, sensors, and embedded devices expand the ability to gather data from previously unexplored areas…

Mr. Redding is referring to supply chains, but his statement is applicable to the world generally.  There is going to be a lot more information created and gathered.  You might be a previously unexplored area yourself. 

Don’t expect to see a privacy policy covering the information being gathered through RFID tags on your person.  And they will be on your person – in your driver’s license and passport for example.

Scientific American published a very good article about this in 2008.  Here’s an excerpt:

China’s national ID cards, for instance, are encoded with what most people would consider a shocking amount of personal information, including health and reproductive history, employment status, religion, ethnicity and even the name and phone number of each cardholder’s landlord. More ominous still, the cards are part of a larger project to blanket Chinese cities with state-of-the-art surveillance technologies. Michael Lin, a vice president for China Public Security Technology, a private company providing the RFID cards for the program, unflinchingly described them to the New York Times as “a way for the government to control the population in the future.” And even if other governments do not take advantage of the surveillance potential inherent in the new ID cards, ample evidence suggests that data-hungry corporations will.

That’s an article from five years ago.  I imagine there’s been a great deal more happening with this technology since then.

One more concerning thing to think about – anything wireless can be hacked – like your pacemaker or your insulin pump.

The Federal Trade Commission is so interested in this that it is holding a public workshop on the subject in November.  I’m not the biggest fan of the Federal Trade Commission, but since the law always lags innovation I’m happy anyone is concerned about this.

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