3 Legal Liability Issues for the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a buzzword, it’s a lifestyle. With smartphones, smart homes, smart tv’s, and more it seems like people want to be constantly connected. With new technology, however, comes a new approach to the legal liability part. IoT comes with challenges that require creative solutions. These can be partially addressed by thinking about the impact of first movers on non-standardized device creation. Here is what you need to know:

The Internet of Things (IoT) is more than a buzzword, it’s a lifestyle. With smartphones, smart homes, smart TVs, and more it seems like people want to be constantly connected.  With new technology, however, comes a new approach to the legal liability part. IoT comes with challenges that require creative solutions. These can be partially addressed by thinking about the impact of first movers on non-standardized device creation. Here is what you need to know:

1. Your Work, Your Product

Product liability is one of the first things to focus on when discussing its impact on the legal landscape. In doing this, an organization that creates technology needs to think ahead. First off, sometimes stuff break or end up not working right. This basic malfunction can cause a house thermometer to malfunction in the winter leaving a house without heat and causing the family to relocate. Secondly, if someone from the outside hacks into the product, they could take control of it and impact the lives of people in an unfortunate manner, such as accidents, human losses etc. Every scenario must be taken into account. Finally, the product or the server is hacked leading to stolen personal data. This can lead to identity theft, which exposes sensitive credit card information or identity information of any kind.

2. So Much IoT, So Little Time

Most of the time, liability needs to be traced back to the source of the problem. In the case of IoT, this is increasingly difficult. IoT development relies on incorporating multiple chips or devices interconnected between each other. This leads to a nightmare when trying to determine the legal root problem of a security breach.  For example, if your smartphone is connected to a chain of routers, this creates multiple “blind spots” from where an attack could occur.

According to legal experts at SteinPag, “the interconnectedness of IoT causes serious negligence issues. With so many parties involved, determining which device is at fault can be challenging. This means that as lawsuits arise, there is also a lot of finger-pointing involved. With the lack of solid laws at this point, finding standards of accountability is determined by adjudication.”

3. Go Speed-Racer

People crave more technology. This drives companies to create or design it. To meet demands means to consider that the creation process is moving much faster than the standards and regulations involved. While there are compliance laws and standards for traditional technology, the IoT landscape still lacks many of them. With no requirements, there’s no specific duty to which the devices can be held accountable for. Moreover, many of the companies driven to create these devices do not have the security built into the applications. This leads to a proliferation of vulnerable devices that are not held to any specific standards, making the connection to liability blurry.

As it appears, liability for IoT devices remains an uncharted territory, for the moment. Increasingly more people want to connect to smart devices, which is good business for many companies and startups, especially. However, IoT providers should pay more attention to the sensitivity nature of developing gadgets and devices, and make sure they meet regulations, in order to avoid lawsuits and liability issues.

What Is “Internet Of Things” And The Challenges We Face

If you have been following the technology section of news, you may have come across this term quite a few times. Notwithstanding the massive changes to our lifestyles since the advent of the internet, technology gurus have predicted that we have barely scratched the surface of the possibilities. “Internet of Things” is expected to be the next massive revolution in the technology space.

So what exactly is IoT? At a simplistic level, it refers to interacting with various devices and gadgets over the internet. For instance, did you forget to switch off the lights while you started off on your long vacation? A simple tap on a mobile app should do that for you with IoT. But that’s again the tip of the iceberg. Here is a quote from a recent article on Metro that should give you a better idea of where we are headed:

“Your alarm wakes you at the correct time after checking your schedule and adjusting itself for traffic and transport delays. Your coffee machine begins brewing, the heating and hot water turn on (adjusting the temperature according to the weather) and the car starts de-icing the windscreen.”

The Internet of Things, or Thingternet as we like to call it will definitely revolutionize the world over the next decade. According to a Gartner study, IoT will bring in close to $1.9 trillion worth of economic value add by 2020. That’s nearly 30 billion devices connected to the internet by then.

While the prediction appears exaggerated at the moment, we will get there with the right infusion of technology infrastructure. Enterprises today have already connected through high speed business internet plans to make them ready for the deployment of IoT at the workplace. This however cannot be said for domestic consumers. Although the average broadband speed in the US is a good 24.5 Mbps, some parts of the country still have extremely low speed internet connections. A lot of potential use-cases with IoT come in a domestic household environment and in the absence of a sufficiently good internet infrastructure, IoT may not take off.

The priority for governments across the world over the next 5 years needs to be on enhancing their internet infrastructure. Going by Gartner’s prediction, we are predicting a scenario where nearly 30-50 billion devices could be fitted with IoT within the next six years. That’s a massive addition of client devices to an already crowded ecosystem. It will be interesting to see how governments act on building the infrastructure in time for us to truly bear the fruits of the IoT innovation.