The European Commission is consulting on the governance of the “Internet of Things” - a possible (some would say increasingly likely) future in which everyday objects are capable of communicating automatically over the Internet.
The “Internet of Things” may conjure up fantasies of self-replenishing refrigerators, IPv6 enabled wine-cellars and keys that email you their whereabouts when you lose them. However, the Commission is concerned about the privacy implications of a world full of devices that automatically collect and communicate information from their surroundings.
The Internet of Things holds the promise of significant progress in addressing global and societal challenges and to improve daily life. It is also a highly promising economic sector for sustainability, growth, innovation and employment. But it is likely to have a profound impact on society, in areas like privacy, security, ethics, and liability. The policy challenge is to assess the right trade-off between the potential economic and societal benefits and the control that we want to retain over an environment where machines will gather, exchange, process and store information automatically.
— Commission consultation document
The “Internet of Things” also raises questions about security, as appliances and infrastructure become Internet enabled, and therefore susceptible to malware.
The consultation questionnaire is open for responses until 12 July 2012. The Commission plans to publish its recommendations by summer 2013.