The Internet of Things and National Security
The internet of things just seems silly to me. It across to me as another intrusion into our lives, but without the benefits of products like a smart phone. Over time I have come to appreciate the ability to access so much information at my finger tips and the connections with friends and family. But I don’t see the same benefits from connecting my coffee maker to the internet. It comes across as an unnecessary expense for the consumer. Indeed, the internet of things may provide more benefits for the companies who make them than the consumers. It creates a new stream of data they can monetize. So, the latest gadgets may have less to do with consumer demand than the residual income the companies can make from data collection.
However, the surveillance of so many personal aspects of a person’s life raises important questions. Most of the consumer goods companies manufacture their products oversees. China is the largest consumer goods manufacturer in the world. Indeed, the Chinese company Haier now owns GE Applainces. Moreover, they told Aynne Kokas they now consider themselves a data company rather than a consumer goods company.
It’s important to note Chinese companies are required to store any data accumulated in China within its borders. The United States does not have a similar requirement so there is an asymmetric relationship in technology regulation between the United States and China. Many companies will likely find it easier to store all their data in China. This opens the door for what Aynne Kokas describes as data trafficking. Of course, most of the information gathered is fairly innocuous. However, it’s possible it may expose vulnerabilities and risks to foreign governments when examined at a macro level. It’s something policymakers should consider while the data available remains limited.