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The Internet of Things

Interesting article published by the BBC on the next big frontier for the Internet – the Internet of Things. This next stage in the evolution of the Internet allows us to access and control an increasingly diverse network of devices and sensors, such as personal fitness monitors and many household items. There are applications available now for remotely controlling central heating systems, recording TV and video when we’re not at home, and keeping friends and families informed of our whereabouts. The Ford Motor Company recently announced a new initiative using their in-car connectivity system and an interface to a mobile tracking application, allowing drivers to share their location with friends and family directly from their cars using their smartphones and voice commands.

The early days of the Internet were all about people exchanging  information. Now the technology has evolved to integrate many physical devices, allowing us to use the information collected by these devices to manage our lives more effectively. Almost inevitably, with many such innovations the attendant concerns of privacy and location tracking are raised. If I use my smartphone to adjust the central heating in my home to come on/switch off at certain times, and that information is stored on a network and accessed by others or my phone is stolen, that information could potentially be used by someone trying to gain access to the house when no one is in.

How do we control who has access to our personal information and how can we protect ourselves from individuals and organisations who would seek to use that information without our consent? Many companies and organisations prefer to focus on what these new technologies can do for us and how much more efficient managing our personal location data has become, rather than discussing concerns about the misuse of this information. However, it’s our information so perhaps we should take more responsibility for managing it by securing our smartphones and insisting on a privacy policy based on “Nothing-is-shared-unless-I-say-so”.

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