The Internet of Citizens. A lawyer’s view on some technological developments in the United Kingdom and India

Article English OPEN
Noto La Diega, Guido (2017)
  • Publisher: National Law School of India University
  • Subject: M100 | M200

This article is a useful tool for both Asian and European readers as regards some of the state-of-the-art technologies revolving around the Internet of Things (‘IoT’) and their intersection with cloud computing (the Clouds of Things, ‘CoT’) in both the continents. The main legal issues will be presented, with a focus on intellectual property, consumer protection, and privacy. India and the United Kingdom are selected because they are at the forefront of the IoT innovation in their respective countries. The IoT is an expanding and heterogeneous universe encompassing all Things which are capable of connectivity and are equipped with sensing and actuating capabilities. One can find Things in very diverse sectors, from agriculture to manufacturing, retail, healthcare, leisure, domotics, urban development, etc. Therefore, not only is providing an exhaustive and static definition of the IoT nearly impossible (or at least pointless), but also the endeavour of providing a complete picture of the phenomenon would be a cumbersome path towards failure. Consequently, I will give account only of the highlights of the IoT in India and the United Kingdom. In India, the IoT will be analysed through the prism of net neutrality, smart cities, manufacturing, computer-related inventions, and a recent bill on the surveillance aspects of the world’s largest biometric database (Aadhaar). In turn, I will look at the British context by analysing some (quasi) regulatory acts with a focus on privacy and consumer protection. One last caveat. When it comes to new technologies, one tends to be either ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘integrated’. Either the technology will save us all by leveraging a revolution leading to a disruptive innovation, or it will destroy our lives and the world will go to the dogs. I take a middle position and believe that through education, collective awareness, and soft law, one will be able to keep the human being at the centre of innovation, to unite people rather than divide them, to empower them and alleviate discrimination and poverty. What is important is neither should one delegate to technology nor to rely entirely on government: if the IoT is to actually become a revolution, it will do so due to the commitment of each and every one of us who will contribute to create the Internet of Citizens.
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    63 references, page 1 of 7

    8 O Lopez-Fernandez et a,lPrevalence of problematic mobile phone use in British adolescents, 17(2) Cyberpsychology Behaviour and Social Network, 91-98 (2014) available at doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0260.

    9 Pedrero Pérez EJ et ,alMobile phone abuse or addiction: A review of the literature, 24 Adicciones 139-152 (2012).

    10 According to the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, Things in homes are new opportunities for spying. RSeecord Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community Senate Armed Services Committee (February 6, 2016) (statement of James Clapper), available athttp://www.armed-services.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/ Clapper_02-09-16.pdf.

    12 Under art. 5(3) of the Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protec-tion of pri vacy in the electronic communications sector ('e-Privacy directive'), “the use of electronic communications networks to store information or to gain access to information stored in the terminal equipment of a subscriber or user is only allowed on condition that the subscriber or user concerned is provided with clear and comprehensive information in accordance with Directive 95/46/EC, inter alia about the purposes of the processing, and is offered the right to refuse such processing by the data cont.rAorltliecrl.”e.2C9f Working Party, Opinion 4/2012 on Cookie Consent Exemption (June 7, 2012), availablhetattp:// ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/ ifles/2012/wp194_en.pdf, and Article 29 Working Party, Working Document 02/2013 providing guidance on obtaining consent for cookies (October a2v,a2i0la1b3l)e, at http:// ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/ ifles/2013/wp208_en.pdf. The Article 29 Working Party can be broadly considered as the European regulator of data protection.

    13 Cf., e.g., Vidal-Hall v. Google Inc., 2014 EWHC 13 (QB), about the distress suffered by users of Apple Things from learning that their personal characteristics formed the basis for Google's targeted advertisements and from having learnt that such matters might have come to the knowledge of third parties who had used or seen their Things. The claimants used Apple's Safari browser, which was set to block Third Party Cookies that-would ena ble the tracking and collation of browser activity. They pleaded that a Safari workaround operated by Google allowed it to obtain and record information about their Internet use and use it for the purposes of its AdSense advertising service. The High Court, Queen's Bench Division held, among other things, that 'damage' under the Data Protection Act 1998 need not necessarily have an economic aspect.

    14 FCC, Chairman Wheeler's Proposal to Give Broadband Consumers Increased Choice, Transparency & Security with Respect to Their Data (March 10, 2016), available at https://www.fcc.gov/document/broadband-consumer-privacy-proposal-fact-sheet.

    15 First of all, do the users have the actual possibility of dissenting? Do they understand what they are consenting to? Are there not other justifications for the processing of personal data? Should we not be more realistic? The answers to these questions should be the basis of future research.

    16 See, e.g., Article 29 Working Party, Opinion 9/2014 on the application of Directive 2002/58/EC to device fingerprinting (November 25, 2014), availablehatttp://ec.europa. eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2014/ wp224_en.pdf.

    17 On the use of high-frequency sounds to covertly track across a range of Cdhevriicses, see Calabreseet al, Comments for November 2015 Workshop on Cross-Device Tracking, Letter from the Center for Democracy & Technology to the Federal Trade Commission (October 16, 2015), available athttps://cdt.org/files/2015/10/10.16.15-CDT-Cross--De vice-Comments.pdf.

    22 On February 2, 2016, the EU and the US agreed on a new framework for transatlantic data flows: the EU-US Privacy Shield. The College of Commissioners has mandated VicePresident Ansip and Commissioner Jourová to prepare a draft adequacy decision, which should be adopted by the College after obtaining the advice of the Article 29 Working Party and after consulting a committee composed of representatives of the Member States. In the meantime, the U.S. side will make the necessary preparations to put in place the new framework, monitoring mechanisms and the new Ombudsman. The draft adequacy decision a(vailable at http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/files/privacy-shi-eld-ade quacy-decision_en.pdf) and the text of the Privacy aSvhaiielladbl(e at http://ec.europa.eu/ justice/data-protection/files/privacy-shield-adequacy-decision-annex-2_en.pdf) have been presented on February 29, 2016.

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