As I wait for my next class to begin, I scroll through my Twitter feed. Nothing interesting. Facebook is next. I scroll past engagements, ‘happy birthdays’, and other controversial Facebook statuses. Suddenly, something intriguing such as, “What Type of Alcoholic Drink Are You? Quiz” catches my eye. (Let’s keep in mind; I am bored before class.) Out of sheer boredom, or curiosity, I click on the link. A page appears that asks my permission to access my contacts and photos, but vows never to post on my behalf. ‘Sounds good’, I think to myself.
But is it… good? I generally (and regrettably) don’t think twice accepting these kinds of terms. Even when my “George Orwell’s 1984 senses” are tingling, I can’t think past the task at hand. I think the feeling of increasing convenience will eventually cause huge complications in the future of privacy via the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things is defined as “a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data”, basically a very high-tech society. Similar to the world in which we are becoming.
In today’s society, like taking online quizzes, people are fascinated with the instant access of knowledge and convenience. According to a 2015 study by Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, 84 percent of people generally agreed that they would like some control over what marketers could learn about them, but 65 percent accepted that they have little control over the process. This just goes to show that the convenience of the Internet of Things is beginning to override society’s concern of their personal privacy.
I think the future of the Internet of Things is scary. I remember the 1999 film Smart House, in which their home was capable of doing anything. Although that is a faraway, (seemingly awesome) futuristic world, it is approaching fast. We are now capable of locking our homes on an iPhone, playing with our dogs via video cameras, and taking a different route on the way home because of predicted traffic. These are things that would have seemed absolutely insane some years ago that are now right at our fingertips.
But when do we decide “high-tech” information gathering and the Internet of Things have gone too far? When does society finally take a step back and fight for a right for privacy? Maybe these things will occur when all the basic aspects of life have become too convenient. Maybe, there will be nothing left for us to create a shortcut for. It’s a scary reality we live in.
A Fusion article stated, “Smart fridges have been hacked to reveal their users’ Google passwords; baby monitors have been hacked so that your infant can be spied on by anybody in the world; even cars have been hacked so that they suddenly break down while doing 80 mph on the highway.” (“Privacy Is An Afterthought,” 2016) These are extreme cases, but there are deep issues in the Internet of Things. And the more that people like myself ignore the risk of putting all of our personal information out there, the more likely we are to get all that information hacked and stolen for purposes we never imagined. So be sure to ask yourself, is the convenience worth the lack of privacy?
Turow, J., Hennessy, M., & Draper, N. (2015, June). The Tradeoff Fallacy: How Marketers Are Misrepresenting American Consumers and Opening Them Up to Exploitation [Web log post]. Retrieved September 10, 2016, from https://www.asc.upenn.edu/sites/default/files/TradeoffFallacy_1.pdf
Salmon, F. (2016, January 1). Privacy Is An Afterthought When Convenience Is King [Web log post]. Retrieved September 10, 2016, from http://fusion.net/story/250609/internet-of-things-vs-privacy/