FTC Chair: Smart Gadgets Risk Individual Privacy Through Data Collection

The internet of everything is posing to take over our homes and personal lives, allowing use to control and track our lives with ease. But what these devices could say about us, if taken out of context, could be misleading.

The internet of everything is posing to take over our homes and personal lives, allowing use to control and track our lives with ease. But what these devices could say about us, if taken out of context, could be misleading. Chair of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Edith Ramirez, said that these devices build a "deeply personal and startlingly complete picture.”


The BBC reported that she warned at CES 2015 that companies should only gather the minimum amount of information in order to complete their functions or else risk compromising consumers' privacy. Fitness wearables, in-home smart devices, and tablets all paint a picture of a person's habits, hobbies, and health. It's quite startling to think what a company or university would do with knowing this kind of information. Ramirez shared these fears:

"I question the notion that we must put sensitive consumer data at risk on the off-chance a company might someday discover a valuable use for the information."

But we only need look back to the days when Facebook first came onto the internet scene to understand the repercussions. It was a treasure trove for companies and colleges, where they could screen applicants through their public profiles—much more valuable than what any official background check could provide.

Ramirez believes that companies will either recognize these compromises are dangerous and take action, or risk loosing consumers. Her talk wasn't all about touting the dangers of smart devices, she acknowledged that great things can come from such devices, but that they shouldn't come at the expense of an individual's privacy.

Read more at BBC

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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