The FTC has released a report recommending Internet of Things companies adopt best practices when it comes to collecting customer data and implementing security. The report seems to say that calling for outright legislation for the Internet of Things is “premature”, they instead advocate for “self-regulation” to aid in the adoption of IoT. Overall the report seems fairly balanced although light on concrete steps for IoT companies to take in regards to best practices. The Internet of Things is part marketing-hype and part burgeoning industry and very few people know exactly where it will end up.
I agree with the idea the Internet of Things companies should make every effort to come up with some self-regulating best practices. I also agree with a few of them listed in the report. Octoblu tries to make every effort to follow a set of principles when it comes our IoT platform and our users many of which seem to align with the FTC recommendations. Here are a few of them.
Security is a Primary Concern Not an Afterthought
Now that IoT is extending the control of computing into the real world, security breaches can have catastrophic, life threatening consequences. Imagine a hacked network-connected self-driving car that is sent into oncoming traffic by a malicious attacker. How about an electric grid that is shut down remotely because engineers failed to secure their network. This will not be outside the realm of possibility in a few years, they may become tomorrows headlines. Internet of Things companies need to put security at the forefront and ensure that access to devices and systems is as tight as possible.
Customers Should Own Their Data
The amount of data that customers will generate is going to exponentially increase with each potential device sending mountains of data to remote locations where it can be parsed and analyzed for information. This has the potential to be empowering, allowing us to learn more about ourselves but it also has the potential for misuse. Imagine your Fitbit and Fridge sending your data to your Health Insurance company which raises your premiums based on your diet and exercise. Sharing customer data should only be done with their explicit consent.
Openness and Transparency are Essential
At Octoblu, we believe that IoT platforms should be as open and as easy to connect to as possible. It is why most of our software is open-source. Meshblu, the messaging platform that is at the core of Octoblu is open source and will remain that way. We believe that in order for IoT to see wide scale adoption, open-source systems should be the defacto standard so that companies can collaborate and generate wide-scale innovation in the area.
The Experience Should be Unobtrusive
It should be as easy to operate and automate IoT devices and systems as possible. They also should have an almost non-existent failure rate. The IoT user experience needs to be intuitive and seamless. It is something that we have at the fore-front of every conversation that we have at Octoblu. We know that there is a long way to go in this area and we strive to improve the experience that people have when using our platform to automate areas of their lives. Ease of use in IoT will only enhance rapid adoption.
Hopefully, there will be as many Internet of Things companies as possible that will build these principles into their products. We will all be better for it.