The FTC’s Upcoming “Internet Of Things” Workshop: FPF Projects And Resources


Next Tuesday, The Federal Trade Commission will host a workshop on the “Internet of Things,” (IoT), the name commonly used to describe the next generation of connected (or “smart”) devices.  As we enter the age of the Internet of Things, soon our homes will know about our energy consumption habits, our cars will know how we drive, and even our personal fitness will be linked to connected devices.  In this new age, privacy and security will remain a primary concern.  FPF’s Christopher Wolf has written a blog for the IAPP about the event, and will also be participating in one of the day’s panels.  Chris opens with two well-known quotes by Lawrence Lessig and Judge Easterbrook on “The Law of the Horse” to illustrate his point that “with the emergence of new technologies comes the perennial contest over whether the current legal framework provides sufficient protections.”

The FTC’s workshop agenda is now available and includes many great events addressing issues such as those listed above.  Since FPF has worked on a number of projects related to the Internet of Things, we’d like to compile them here in anticipation of the event.

Smart Grid Privacy Seal Program: FPF developed a first-of-its-kind privacy seal program for companies providing services to consumers that rely on energy data.  The program provides flexible rules for homes that access energy use data.  Read more about the project here.

Connected cars: FPF’s Connected Cars Project has convened leading auto manufacturers and telematics companies to discuss best practices in privacy and data security while recognizing the benefits of new connected car technologies.  The FTC IoT workshop will feature a panel with FPF’s Founder and Co-Chair Christopher Wolf speaking on the privacy and security issues raised by connected cars.

Mobile Location Analytics (“MLA”) in Retail Stores: FPF worked with a group of leading Mobile Location Analytics companies and Senator Chuck Schumer to create a Mobile Location Analytics Code of Conduct to provide an enforceable, self-regulatory framework for retail tracking. Learn more about the Smart Store Privacy project here. 

In general, FPF has argued that the key privacy issues presented by the Internet of Things can be adequately addressed by traditional Fair Information Practice Principles.  However, some of the key elements of FIPPs must be tweaked in new ways to accommodate for “smart” technologies.  For instance, it may be more difficult to provide adequate notice to users when certain smart devices lack screens or consumer-facing interfaces.  In addition to the projects listed above, FPF filed public comments to the FTC in preparation for the IoT workshop.  Our comments emphasize the usefulness of flexible self-regulatory codes of conduct, seals and other public-facing and enforceable commitments as tools to safeguard user privacy and security.  We look forward to the FTC’s workshop and hope to see many other privacy-conscious people there.