Internet of Things and Proposed Regulation
The Internet of Things is a network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. So, with the rapid rise of smart devices, it is now easier for companies to obtain information about consumers and tailor services to their needs or habits. This tailoring yields both positive and negative points. The positive point is that it is now easier to obtain services tailored to your needs or habits. However, the negative point is that smart devices can collect information even if the consumer is unaware of the process. Do you own a smart device? Are you concerned about your privacy? Then you should contact a law firm that can assess your legal rights. As such, with these possibilities, several laws have been proposed towards Congress in order to regulate the collection of information.
For example, the Black Box Privacy Protection Act (“BBPPA”) and We Are Watching You Act (“WAWYA”) were recently introduced as bills. The BBPPA was intended to amend the Automobile Information Disclosure Act. It required any automobile created in, or imported to the United States, to have an information label affixed to its window. The information label must include: (1) the presence of an event data recorder (i.e., black box); (2) the type of information collected and method of collection; and (3) the disclosure the information may be subject to use in law enforcement proceedings. This proposed law also set forth the property ownership of the information and circumstances where a third party may access the information. On May 21, 2015, this bill was introduced for consideration by lawmakers. As of now, it has been assigned to a congressional committee, which will consider it before sending it to the House of Representatives or Senate.
The WAWYA prohibits video service providers from collecting the visual or sound information from the device. For example, it would be illegal for video service providers to access and collect information from your smart phone while you are streaming one of their videos. If the video service provider decided to collect this information, this law required them to inform the consumer of the collection of information, with the message “we are watching you,” the type of information collected, and how the information will be used by the provider. It also required the description of the information collected to be provided in the terms of service and the box in which the device is sold if the video service provider is automatically linked to the device. On February 27, 2015, this bill was introduced for consideration by lawmakers. This proposed law has also been assigned to a congressional committee for consideration.
Currently, there is a small likelihood of either bills passing. It is predicted the BBPPA has a 1% chance of being enacted and WAWYA has a 0% chance. With these low chances of enactment, consumers are still vulnerable when it comes to their privacy.
For more information about your rights, you should consult with an attorney. At our law firm, we assist clients regarding internet, technology, and privacy matters.