The European Commission seems determined to jump in and be 'helpful' when it comes to the establishment of an 'Internet of Things'. It's just announced that it wants to start building a framework to unleash its potential. By Ian Scales.
That the commission, in the shape of Neelie Kroes (who rejoices in the over-elaborate title 'European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Agenda') wants to shepherd a Euro IoT comes as no surprise (the EC has been making encouraging noises for a while) but it should also come with a slight shudder of apprehension. Do we really want or need a (partly) proscriptive framework to be banged into place when the thing being (partly) proscribed is not even off the drawing board yet?
Whether we do or not, it's coming. The EC says it wants to know "what framework is needed to unleash the potential economic and societal benefits of the IoT, whilst ensuring an adequate level of control of the devices gathering, processing and storing information."
A strong part of the objective here concerns control and consumer protection.
The EC says it is concerned about individual rights and it wants to understand what the issues might be around devices which gather, process and store information.
Kroes' key statement in the press release says, "An Internet of Things with intelligence embedded into everyday objects is the next big thing. I want to promote an Internet of Things that serves our economic and societal goals, whilst preserving security, privacy and the respect of ethical values."
The IoT, says the statement, requires a level playing field where all players can compete on an equal footing, without gate keepers and locked-in users. Its societal acceptance requires the definition of an ethical and legal framework, supported by technology and providing people with control and security.
A consultation is therefore being launched where the commission will seek views on privacy, safety and security, ethics, interoperability, governance and standards. That will be pondered and distilled to feed into a Commission's Recommendation on the IoT to be ready by summer 2013.
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