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The coming Internet of Things (IoT)

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From Sesión de .Internet de las Cosas. (Internet of Things)
Sesión de .Internet de las Cosas. (Internet of Things)
(image by Medialab Prado)

If the privacy issues raised by Edward Snowden's revelation of NSA surveillance caused you any concern, you ain't seen nothing yet.

The new year will see explosive growth in the Internet of Things (IoT) -- that is, the adding of an Internet address to anything on the planet, enabling that item, or person, to be accessible to and from the "Cloud."

There are many potential benefits of the IoT, what IBM calls "a smarter planet," including efficiencies in land management, resource allocation, and energy use.

But there is also the chance that we may soon live in a global environment of such total, unrelenting, and unavoidable surveillance that we will envy the residents of Panem, in The Hunger Games.

The levels of omnipresent surveillance made possible by this technical development may change the very nature of human identity in the next decade.

This issue demands comment from anyone with an interest in privacy, security, and self-identity.  It impacts issues of individuality, liberty, and what it means to be a freeborn man or woman.

And besides privacy concerns, thought should be given to how much energy it will take to ultimately monitor the entire planet.  And because increased complexity leads to increased fragility, the likelihood of system crashes increases geometrically.   

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission convened a gathering last November that brought together academics, business and industry representatives, and consumer-advocacy groups to explore the security and privacy issues in this changing world.

That was the first step in the process. The Commission is now accepting public comments on privacy and security topics, but only until January 10, 2014. 

I urge you to weigh in on this issue before it is taken over by those whose parochial interests are not aligned with the common good.

You and your friends and associates can express your concerns to the Federal Trade Commission before Friday, January 10, 2014, at .  Then scroll down to Public Comments.

Thank you,  Tom Mahon

Tom Mahon has written about technology for 40 years as publicist, journalist, novelist, dramatist, and activist. Since the early 1990s, he has spoken and written widely on the need to reconnect technical capability with social responsibility. (more...)
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