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Dirty air, dirty toys and IoT safety

Mind the gap! Why policy and clear guide lines to keep us safe are needed right now


While there were welcome announcements in the UK’s first and last spring budget for smart city living, there was a serious white elephant in the room: the UK’s filthy air that is linked to premature death and dementia. And while pollution alerts are a tool in the IoT’s arsenal for smart cities that tell us when to wear our Darth Vader helmets, or shut the windows and take cover under the dining room table, we need policy to address the reasons why the sensors are alerting us in the first place. It’s not enough to tell us when and where we’re likely to have an asthma attack.


Talking of the Internet of Things, the Smart IoT show has come to London, but the close proximity of the word smart with the IoT can be a dangerous game as far as public perception is concerned.

For consumer IoT, security breaches are an issue, as rushing products to market seems to be more important than security. You can pretty much spend an amusing hour or so searching privacy and security breaches in connected products around the globe, should you be so inclined.

Children’s toys have figured highly, but a recent report in the press involved the adult variety, with the company responsible for the We-Vibe smart dildo ordered to pay out $3 million in total to its customers after one user realised her intimate usage was being tracked. The device’s app was sending data back to the company that included when it was being used, what settings were being applied(!) all accompanied by the customer’s e-mail address.

With adult toys of this ilk, which are controlled by apps connected to the Internet, hacking could be a serious issue, which according to security researchers could constitute sexual assault.

With more things being connected, and increasing numbers of us using all manner of technology for our everyday work, rest and play, the heat is on. Government, academia and business need to seriously collectively debate how to navigate this new landscape that must balance the need for emerging innovations to flourish and meet their potential, while keeping us as safe as possible.


Melony Rocque


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