The Internet of Things Needs a Code of Ethics

Technology is evolving faster than the legal and moral frameworks needed to manage it.

With the development of IoT, malwares have been used to disrupt internet access around the globe. Right now, in this early stage of connected devices’ slow invasion into our daily lives, there’s no clear answer to that question. That’s because there’s no real legal framework that would hold manufacturers responsible for critical failures that harm others. As is often the case, the technology has developed far faster than policies and regulations.

But it’s not just the legal system that’s out of touch with the new, connected reality. The Internet of Things, as it’s called, is also lacking a critical ethical framework.

This raises new ethical questions; notions of privacy and ownership are being challenged; questions arise over who owns customer data and how it can be used; what licence do we have to aggregate, analyse and interpret information gleaned from hundreds, thousands or millions of customer interactions? Informed consent processes are becoming necessary; and ideas on what constitutes harm and fair use are being called into question. These challenges are arising across industry value chains, so no one is surprised to see businesses develop digital codes to ensure employees, clients and partners know they are operating within acceptable ethical standards.

In some sense, the Information Age has had that same kind of impact on all aspects of life. And the Internet of Things exacerbates it, because now the boundaries between the physical world and the biological world and the cyber world are blending. We’re bumping into something that’s going to have a tremendous impact in the way we live, what we do, how we think about things, and even our individual rights.

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