An image showing the interconnectivity of Internet of Things

Internet of Things An reflection of ethics...

The definition of the Internet of Things according to Google is “the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data”. In today’s home, the inclusion of interconnectivity between all devices is very common. A common home could potentially have many devices such as an Amazon Alexa device, an Apple Watch, a streaming device, a video game device, etc. In a sense a majority of these devices talk to each other, exchanging data about the processes of the household. Some of these devices have positive attributions to life, some devices are just over bearing and give too much data that the companies who provide these technologies unlawfully gather.

The overall influence of the negative aspect of IOT stems from many aspects of life such as economics, and culture. Technology has evolved rapidly, it is okay to applaud the advances and how it aids human beings on a daily basis. Take Amazon Alexa, Siri, or Google’s voice speaker for example. They are learning from the interactions between you and them. If you are asking Alexa, about say a musical artist, and their biography. After Alexa answers you’re question, she will follow up with a question of wanting her play that musical artists catalog. Now that type of interaction is alright to me and does not pose a threat. There is not anything wrong with the cultural aspect of smart technology as I know a lot of households that have that technology within their homes. I think one of the issues is the economical aspect of it. These technologies store data of which it sends to the companies who manufacture these devices. Some of this data can be personal information you might not trust external sources to have. You can say it is an invasion of privacy, but you typically agreed to the terms of service when setting up these devices. These term of service contracts you agree too have fine print, and they can be long strenuous reads, and probably ten times out of ten you skip through and out right click agree. The data the company collects is often for commercial purposes to use and grow or update their products. Overall, these companies are using the consumer as a guinea pig for the advancement of their merchandise.

Now just recently Amazon recently bought out the Ring company. They create “smart doorbells”, which is essentially a doorbell with a camera attached to it. Once the door bell is pressed the mobile device connected to it will notify you that someone is at the door.  Now that sounds fine, and could potentially be a safe option to have just in case there could be a threatening person at your front door. Ring will also notify you when you are not home when there is someone in or around the general area of your front door and they could potentially be suspicious. The camera on the device is also constantly on and basically records any action in it’s field of view. Where does all that footage go? Do you have access to that footage? You only have a limited amount of access to that footage the camera picks up that was previously mentioned. To me that sounds scary that data created from the camera of the area around our my own house and I cannot access it. Another thing that could be harmful is, besides Ring, does any other company have access to that footage. With any smart device there is some data that goes to a analytics firm to determine many aspects of why that certain technology is used, but mostly for advertising purposes.

An image of the Ring Video Doorbell
A Ring Video Doorbell

Although we agree to the terms of service provided by the technologies we use. I think these terms of use contractual obligations keep these companies from being intertwined with lawsuits. But I think the government should step in and see how the data about us as consumers is actually used in proportion to how much is stored away. Especially on the unfortunate prospects that their private servers get compromised and then our information is out to the world to see and steal. Although companies offer what I feel are band-aids to remedy the situation, but more should be done. Consequently I feel that more laws should be made to protect the consumer and hold these corporations responsible for these potential wrongdoings.

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