The Internet of Things is spying on you

The Internet of Things (IoT), a fancy expression used since decades to talk about inter-connected devices through a network. It has been a fantasy for several years and is finally taking off. We will have connected electronics everywhere. Anywhere, anytime.

Examples are there: the NEST home automation company has been acquired by google, fitbit went public the last days and google has now a full a full product line for wearable: Android wear. For sure, the applications for the masses are limited now (e.g. fitness trackers, watches) but companies are investing a lot to put technology everywhere (your shirt, your pants, anywhere in your home).

When looking at the product description, this is very appealing: keep track of your sleep, discover abnormal heartbeats, monitor your home through connected camera. This sounds very appealing.

But there are some downside: by giving away our private data, we are opening the door to mass surveillance to many other people. Your manager can track you down and know when you left your home. Your insurance can increase your premium based on your activity. You give away your privacy, and gives for free the data that matters only to you. This is not new and car insurer already proposed to adapt your insurance policy according to how you drive.

Most of us already gave away our privacy, that is the basis of who we are. Many e-mails accounts are handled by online services (e.g. gmail, ymail, etc.) but we forget that we are paying it with our privacy and finally are the final product (if you are wondering how I manage my e-mail, short answer is custom hosting and encryption). Millions of people are using social medias to report where they go and what they like. If you are skeptical, look at the accounts of the big players (google, facebook) and try to guess how they can make so much money with a free product. The downside for us is that by putting everything online, we give away who we are. What is the benefit to meet people as we already know everything about them? Who has any interest in meeting somebody if he already know everything about him/her?

I am not a naysayer. Or even not saying that: “it was better before”. Progress is both exciting and dangerous. And as Uncle Ben used to say: “With great power comes great responsibility”. Technology should be a progress and help us to improve what we are, who we are. We have to use it carefully and efficiently. Social media is a great platform to organize meetings and keep in touch with folks we did not see for a while but it becomes intrusive and a waste of time when we report everything we do with it. Wearable technology follows the same rules: it can be a great way to improve our life but can also be very intrusive. As for every technology (even the most basic one – think about a knife), its impact will depend on how you use it. It can be a great benefit (e.g. cut your food for the knife or tracking potential diseases for wearables) or a total disaster (e.g. kill people for the knife or tracking your movements for wearables).

One thing for sure: the future is exciting and these technologies open new applications and new markets. I am very curious to see how people will use it and how these new technologies will grow and integrate with other devices (phone, car, etc.).

The Internet of Things is spying on you