The top six things you need to know about the Internet of Things: a legal perspective
11 AUG 2015 By: Peter Jones Tim Lyons Sharon Rowe
IoT is discussed in the media more and more frequently. It has important social, economic and legal implications, most of which are yet to be fully understood.
The following sets out a brief list of things you should know about IoT from a lawyer’s perspective.
IoT is here and it’s changing the way we live and interact with each other. It will change the way consumers interact with suppliers, businesses interact with their employees and each other and government interacts with its customers, employees and contractors.
IoT is about smart 'things', which record and transmit data automatically via the internet and without the need for human input. Examples include:
- fridges that record when you are out of milk and which purchase milk online from a supermarket for you
- watches that record your heart rate, movement and sleeping patterns and send that data to your smart phone for your review or even to a medical monitoring service
- building access cards that automatically report to your employer that you are late for work and then set your out-of-office email notice for you when you leave
- bathroom scales that record and send your weight readings via wi-fi to an app on your phone
- sensors used in industrial control systems for utilities to predict the maintenance required to provide services to you
- What if your wearable activity tracker provided information on stress levels to your employer?
- What if your car could report to your insurance company that you are a bad driver and your insurance premium increases?
- If you are in an accident, what if emergency assistance was immediately called (if needed) and insurance claims automatically lodged?
- What if your bin could put itself out when the truck is approaching and the toilet seat could put itself down for select members of the household? Would this completely eliminate marital disharmony?
IoT also gives rise to significant data protection and privacy issues. How the data is collected, transmitted, stored and used is critical, as anyone who can access it will be able to gain an intimate view of almost all aspects of your life. Will the regulatory framework be able to accommodate IoT? Will privacy become more or less important to us in an IoT saturated world?
IoT also gives rise to a myriad of other legal issues, including security, IP and product liability issues. For example, what if your IoT fridge orders too much milk or your IoT medical monitoring watch malfunctions and calls an ambulance every hour (or worse, not at all)? Who should bear the legal risk? Will this be covered by our household or corporate insurance policies?
The opportunities with IoT are limitless, and DLA Piper is proud to be one of the legal thought leaders in this space.
DLA Piper will soon be holding a number of IoT events nationally, as well as continuing to issue publications on this topic.
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