Are you connected? How connected are you? Some people may think they are not that connected to the internet, but for the most part, everyone is wired – and more than most of us may think.

According to Wikipedia, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

A panel moderated by attorney Kimberley Danzi Overs, which featured Nick Holland, Holland & Knight; Troy Sauro, Google; and Ruby Zefo, Intel; discussed how the IoT is any and all things that connect to the internet, but also how each of those things provides data that is likely being used in some fashion. The obvious items are the smartphones everyone carries, the fitness bands being worn and the new car that can email diagnostic information, but things also includes that old desktop that is still connected.

The concern may not be the connectedness, but all the data these devices provide, which can be valuable information to the user, company, third-party companies and criminals. The data provides numerous benefits, but there also are risks.

With all this data available, several questions arise. Who is collecting the data? How is the data being used? Where is the data going (see Safe Harbor ruling)? Who is accessing the data? Is the device generating the data secure? These are just a sampling of questions and issues that need assessment.

As one member of the panel stated, “You can’t have good privacy without good security.” The panel made a few key suggestions to offer a clearer understanding of data collection to help businesses and consumers, but also for disclosure to regulators should there be a future data incident. One of the most important pieces stressed by the group was to be transparent about the data collection. Another was to provide users control, offering the choice to participate in sharing data from a specific device or equipment, as well as how that data could and would be used. Also, provide clear and detailed privacy language.

There have been numerous documented data breaches, which can create apprehension, but being connected also can provide benefits. So the next time there is a rush to get the latest gadget or piece of technology, one may want to understand the fine print and take a deeper dive to comprehend how the data transmitted may be used and where the data may be stored.

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