Google’s Vint Cerf defines Internet of Things challenges

Cerf was the keynoter at FTC workshop on Internet of Things impact

ftc
We are going to have to live through a period of mistakes and challenges before we can make any strong regulations about the privacy issues and other challenges the Internet of Things present.  That was Vint Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google's response to a regulation question at his keynote before today's Federal Trade Commission's workshop on the Internet of Things trend.

The FTC workshop was examining the issues and challenges of everyday devices to communicate with each other and with people or "The Internet of Things" and ultimately how the agency might regulate that activity.

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"Connected devices can communicate with consumers, transmit data back to companies, and compile data for third parties such as researchers, health care providers, or even other consumers, who can measure how their product usage compares with that of their neighbors," the FTC stated.

Reuters noted that in announcing the workshop in April and soliciting comments, the FTC asked how such gadgets can be updated when security holes are discovered and how to weigh privacy concerns against societal benefits from aggregating data provided by health-tracking gadgets.

vint cerf
Cerf was the keynoter of the workshop which also included FTC execs and representatives from GE Appliances, SmartThings, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others.

The issue of privacy was a hot one.  For his part, Cerf said he would not "simply assert privacy is dead" but rather that it will be increasingly difficult to achieve.

"Our social behavior is quite damaging...technology has outraced our social intuition," he said.

Cerf went on to say he wanted to "build a congressional comic book to help them understand the way in which the Internet works...a lightweight cartoon model to help people to understand what laws make sense."

He also listed seven key challenges facing the Internet of Things, including:

  • Standardized interfaces - such as IPv6
  • Configuration of massive of amount devices
  • Strong access control and authentication
  • Privacy and safety
  • Instrumentation and feedback
  • Dealing with software errors vulnerabilities and software updates
  • Potential opportunities for third party businesses

For its part the FTC was looking for answers to its own key questions: For example:

  • What are the significant developments in services and products that make use of this connectivity (including prevalence and predictions)?
  • What are the various technologies that enable this connectivity (e.g., RFID, barcodes, wired and wireless connections)?
  • What types of companies make up the smart ecosystem?
  • What are the current and future uses of smart technology?
  • How can consumers benefit from the technology?
  • What are the unique privacy and security concerns associated with smart technology and its data? For example, how can companies implement security patching for smart devices?
  • What steps can be taken to prevent smart devices from becoming targets of or vectors for malware or adware?
  • How should privacy risks be weighed against potential societal benefits, such as the ability to generate better data to improve health-care decision-making or to promote energy efficiency?
  • Can and should de-identified data from smart devices be used for these purposes, and if so, under what circumstances?

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