The Internet of Things is growing. In fact this visionary concept has already been applied to a whole range of products and services: the Nest thermostat and Amazon’s Dash home scanner to name but a few.
The hottest trend at the moment, however, has got to be wearables. Google Glass is just one proof point that companies are investing heavily in IoT wearables. In 2015 we’ll see the introduction of next-generation smartwatches, such as the Apple Watch, smart clothing and more prototypes of self-driving cars.
To help visualize the incredible growth of the IoT, techblog Gizmodo recently posted a map with all internet-connected devices worldwide.
IoT Privacy Risks
It cannot be denied that the increase in wearable and other connected devices will also raise concerns regarding online privacy. After all, it’s not always clear how secure these devices are, what data is captured and who has access to it.
The European data protection advisory body (article 29 Data Protection Working Party) recently adopted its Opinion 8/2014 on the Recent Development on the Internet of Things. They have compiled an opinion paper with a number of privacy recommendations that apply to all stakeholders.
The risks don’t just concern the increasing prevalence of data harvesting for marketing reasons. There are also governmental and broader corporate privacy concerns. In that respect, the Association of Global Automakers has recently addressed the privacy questions about stored geolocation of connected cars with a set of privacy principles. One of the privacy principles is that GEO-located data will only be disclosed to the government after receiving a warrant or a court order.
Trust as an enabler for online business
There is no halting the progress of the Internet of Things, nor should we try to. After all, it is destined to trigger innovative solutions and services that promise to improve our lives.
Consumers who are able to manage their online privacy are up to 52% more willing to share information
From a business perspective however, service providers will have to find a balance between end-user data collection and end-user data control, in order to establish trust for their online services. In that respect it’s important to note a study by the Boston Consulting Group showing that consumers who are able to manage their online privacy are up to 52% more willing to share information than those who aren’t.
As indicated by the Boston Consulting study: “Trust varies by sector too. Consumers are on average 30% more willing to share data with e-commerce companies, cable operators, and automobile manufacturers than with Web 2.0 communities.” In that respect the privacy principles of the Association of Global Automakers are already a step in the right direction and a good example of how industries should take online privacy serious.
So if you are offering, or planning to offer, online services, consider the remarks made by the European data protection advisory body. Giving your users control over their personal data might just give your business the trust and competitive edge it needs to survive in the interconnected universe.