Securing Consumer Trust in the Internet of Things

By Paula Reinman

In a recent survey of our newsletter readers we asked participants what topics they would most like to learn more about. One of the top responses was the Internet of Things (IoT).

This is not surprising. The subject not only dominates the news cycle – it is completely changing the world of networking and communications. The IoT is ushering in new policy issues, business models, applications, devices and network design requirements.

In late 2017, a broad group of stakeholders and consumer organizations created a comprehensive set of recommendations called Securing Consumer Trust in the Internet of Things. This highly consumable 12-page report gives an accessible overview of the broad types of changes that will be brought on by the IoT and the common sense recommendations that will help it deliver on its promise to consumers.

There are several areas of recommendations that tie in closely with the work of the Marconi Society Fellows.

This report reiterates the right of all people – particularly disadvantaged and marginalized communities – to affordable, high-speed internet services so that they can experience the benefits and opportunities of being part of the connected world. In the US, the recent FCC ruling to reclassify Internet services as Title 1, or unregulated services, is in direct conflict with this recommendation. A number of Marconi Fellows who invented the Internet are championing efforts to change the outcome of this decision. For more information on the potential options and what you can do, read Vint Cerf’s lead article in the January 2018 Marconi Society newsletter.

The Internet of Things will drive a massive shift in nearly every aspect of physical devices and services as we know them today. Many of the things we do each day, from monitoring our health and fitness to controlling home security to educating and advancing ourselves will be done through new applications and services wrapped around both existing mobile devices and new hardware and wearables incorporating technologies like augmented and virtual reality. As this shift takes place, the report speaks to a number of critical issues around consumer protection, privacy and security. In order to deliver a consumer-centered IoT, the industry as a whole will need to adopt a set of design and business ethics developed for this connected world. In our blog post on The Ethics of the Internet of Things Ecosystem, Marconi Society Chair Vint Cerf shares his views on key ethical considerations.

While the IoT introduces innumerable security risks, many of which are outlined in the report, some of the brightest minds in the world are working on ways to make our connected environment safer and more secure. Marconi Fellow and Internet inventor Len Kleinrock is one of them. He shares some nascent, though promising, developments aimed at making the Internet safer for all of us in his blog post, The Internet’s Wild Ride: From Trust to Cybersecurity Threats.

Our Marconi Society Symposium on October 2, which will be held in Bologna, Italy at the Villa Griffone (where Marconi did his most important work in radio communications), will address a number of these issues with an elite group of leading edge researchers and scientists.