F.T.C. Calls For Strong Data And Privacy Protection With Connected Devices

by Natasha Singer, The New York Times

smart home

Bretislav Valek / Wikimedia

As consumers increasingly adopt devices that can collect information and transmit it to the Internet, the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday called on technology companies that sell those products to institute comprehensive measures to protect users’ data security and privacy.

Advancements like in-car sensors, which can record vehicle location and speed, or glucose monitors that can send information on diabetic patients to their doctors, have huge potential benefits, like reducing traffic accidents or improving public health. But the agency said the devices, which make up the so-called Internet of Things, also raise serious security and privacy risks that could undermine consumers’ confidence.

“The only way for the Internet of Things to reach its full potential for innovation is with the trust of American consumers,” Edith Ramirez, the chairwoman of the F.T.C., said in a statement on Tuesday morning. “We believe that by adopting the best practices we’ve laid out, businesses will be better able to provide consumers the protections they want and allow the benefits of the Internet of Things to be fully realized.”

About 4.9 billion connected items for consumers, manufacturing and utilities will be in use this year, according to estimates from Gartner, a technology research firm. That number is expected to rise to 25 billion by 2020, the company said.

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