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Answering Consumers’ Questions About Privacy and the Internet of Things

CTA Staff

Imagine a world where your alarm clock automatically gives you 15 additional minutes of sleep because your early-morning meeting was pushed back an hour. Or your meal planning app lets you know how to adjust your dinner menu based on how long you exercise.
Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), this is reality. IoT is about connecting devices, services and systems, and it’s creating endless opportunities for innovators and making life better for consumers. But with any progress comes some challenges.
Some are asking about how IoT and always-on connectivity will affect privacy. It’s an important question.
We’re at a critical inflection point. Privacy is being redefined to fit our increasingly digital world and consumers are learning their comfort levels with new technologies. As this natural evolution continues, we at the Consumer Electronics Association believe it’s important that we don’t stifle innovation.
And the fact is, innovation works in the consumer’s favor. If devices know where you’ve been, they can serve you better.
In order for innovation in this space to really flourish, technology companies and entrepreneurs need the space and flexibility to design and market new products. At the same time, we can ensure consumers are confident their privacy is being protected. Some ways to create this environment include:
1.     Promoting industry self-regulatory efforts and privacy- and security-by-design principles. Technology companies and entrepreneurs should take the extra step to ensure consumers’ data privacy is protected from the beginning (or incubator stage). Their incentive? Gaining and maintaining consumer trust. Then, the FTC  can properly use its authority to investigate and remedy violations of its consumer protection statute.
2.     Technology companies playing a strong role in helping educate consumers. The industry should arm consumers with all the information they need to protect their privacy while enjoying amazing and exciting new products and services. Consumers need to know what data is being collected, how it is used and with whom it’ll be shared. This will aid consumers in finding their balance point between privacy and information sharing.
CEA and the tech industry are committed to working with consumers and governments to unleash the power of IoT. Interested in hearing more? We’ll discuss this issue at SXSW next week during our second annual Innovation Policy Day at SXSW.