Will IoT Take Away Consumer Choice?

Our everyday appliances and other objects are slowly but surely being taken over by chips and other digital components. This is certain to bring about some exciting new capabilities, but it will also put us at previously unimaginable security and privacy risks.

At the recent CES tech conference, LG made the announcement that all of its premium appliances will now feature built-in Wi-Fi so they can communicate not only with each other but also with owners’ phones.

Experts like F-Secure’s Chief Research Officer Mikko Hypponen think that within the next five years, every appliance is going to have the ability to “call home” to its manufacturer whether it has specific IoT features or not simply because the technology will become so cheap.

The manufacturers will benefit from the data these devices glean in many ways. In the example of a toaster, Hypponen says they will look at how quickly people start using their toasters after buying them, how much bread they toast and what kind they use, where their customers are located, and many other factors.

In fact, it is quite possible that people will be buying products that are connected to the internet without even realizing it, which has some very real ramifications when it comes to privacy. Marketers and algorithms will have unprecedented access to your habits so they can try to sell you products in a more effective way.

IoT Security Concerns

IoT does not currently have the best track record when it comes to security. Many of these devices are easy to break into and even turn into weapons that hackers can use to attack websites and companies. For many consumers, security is not a selling point when it comes to appliances, so manufacturers do not have much motivation to invest in high-tech security features.

This also raises some questions about our current idea of ownership. If a manufacturer decides to discontinue support for something, it will stop working entirely, bricking items that people paid for in good faith.

It’s clear that the Internet of Things is poised to change our lives dramatically, and people who want to take advantage of its benefits will also have to accept its risks.

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