Vint Cerf, oftentimes credited as the father of the internet, will be the keynote speaker at the Federal Trade Commission‘s upcoming workshop on the internet of things. Cerf is vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google and was the co-creator of TCP/IP, the communication protocol that powers nearly all communication on the internet.
From an open networks and standards perspective Cerf is a great representative to speak about the fragmented internet of things, but as a Google employee, I’m curious what his views on data privacy will be. The workshop, to be held on Nov. 19 is a starting point for the FTC to discuss how to handle regulations, including data privacy, as more devices are connected to the internet.
I laid out some of the issues in a previous story based on comments filed to the FTC ahead of the meeting. The FTC seems to be thinking about how it will adapt its classification of “sensitive data” from the web-era of social security number, geolocation, financial records, health information and information about children to something more appreciate for the connected era.
That might include making data such as video streams “sensitive” or deciding how sensitive information is based on context. The workshop might also help the FTC think about how companies can design privacy into their services and ensuring that when exploits appear companies deal with them quickly. I’m curious how Cerf, and Google, will view it if the FTC takes a more aggressive stance here, given the amount of data that Google stands to glean from connectivity in everyday devices.
For a model of what those data privacy rights should look like, I suggest this article by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino or this one by Limor Fried of Adafruit. Companies are ready to suck up this data and beg forgiveness just like they did on the internet. But the stakes are much higher this time, so hopefully the FTC will take real action on behalf of consumers.