Internet of Things

How To Protect Consumers From IoT Vulnerabilities? The FTC Weighs In 

When it comes to IoT, the possibilities seem endless, along with the security issues. In PYMNTS’ March Internet of Things Tracker, sponsored by Intel, we interview FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny about the FTC’s role when it comes to IoT, which they consider to be a big deal. The Tracker also highlights the moves of 51 IoT players (including 10 new additions), as well as the latest notable news spanning the IoT ecosystem. 

IoT seems virtually impossible to ignore these days, not that you’d purposely be trying to. IoT has the potential to improve lives, relieve workloads and, yes, cook for you. Sort of — it’s still early yet for actual IoT culinary offerings — but there are now connected devices in homes that come with Wi-Fi connectivity and can be controlled by mobile apps, which are likely the precursors of connected kitchens of the future. In short, many current IoT devices have capabilities right out of a James Bond movie and they’re on our wrists, as well as enabling billboards and aboard drones. We are living in an exciting time for rapidly developing innovation, and connectivity is playing a crucial role. 

The March edition of the Internet of Things Tracker, Sponsored by Intel, we bring you the latest news and trends, along with the addition of 10 new provider profiles — now totaling 51 companies.

Adapting for the unknown

For this month’s cover story, PYMNTS caught up with Terrell McSweeny, the Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, following her Innovation Project roundtable last week, to talk about IoT and how the FTC’s mission — namely, to protect consumers — is extending into the space. 

Here’s a sneak peek: 

The role of the FTC when it comes to IoT, McSweeny said, is to “protect consumers from bad consequences of being tricked or unavoidable bad security practices.” Although consumers can do their homework, she said, by trying to understand a product from its website or reading Consumer Reports or other reviews, it’s not possible for a consumer to become completely knowledgeable, especially when attempting to research products that are so new.

“You can’t know, if you’re a consumer, what the data security practices are of a company,” McSweeny said. “You have to assume that they’re good, because how are you going to figure that out?” The FTC’s role, she said, is to figure it out for the consumer. And to do that, they are studying the industry and, she said, “We also engage in the conversation around what choices, what context, how transparent do you need to be with consumers about how your information is being used?” To demonstrate her point, McSweeny turned to the example of mapping apps. “Do consumers like the convenience of using a mapping app that knows location information and everybody else’s so you can understand where the traffic jams are? Absolutely. And, I think, they are willing to trade their data. I think the question then becomes, how much do they need to know about where that data will end up?”


To download the March edition of the Internet of Things Tracker, sponsored by Intel, click the button below.



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The CFO’s Guide To Digitizing B2B Payments, a PYMNTS and Comdata collaboration, examines how companies are updating their AP approaches to protect their cash flows, support their vendors and enable their financial departments to operate remotely.

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