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Wearables; the Next Fashion Statement

Do Consumers Know The True Price They May be Paying?

See OTA Call for Comments on IoT Security, Privacy & Sustainability Best Practices

Innovation in personal connected devices, aka the Internet of Things (IoT), has the enticing promise of enabling consumers with a wide range of function and benefits. These advancements are leap frogging what we have realized from smartphones and mobile apps.  We are a data driven society and economy, and increasingly conscious of the opportunity the data these devices can provide.  Wearables and cross device tracking can provide significant insights into the lives, behaviors and tastes of consumers than ever before.  Done right the vendors, marketers, retailers and consumers can equally benefit.  As companies who are rushing to the market are they considering the consequences and responsibilities when consumers entrust them with their data.  If the past news headlines are an indicator of the future, one might say no.

Thanks to Samsung we have TVs which listen and watch us.  Hertz, the world’s largest car rental company has cameras watching the driver versus watching the road and according to 60-minutes we now have cars which can be taken over by a hacker.  But of greater concern is the implications of wearables technologies.  Not only are they capturing where we are physically, but our vitals, redefining personal data and risk.

We have to be careful to not let the promise of innovation blind us.  Not unlike smartphones, the majority of wearable devices can be tracked or located through bluetooth connections and device identifiers.  If one knows where you are, they also know where you are not.  Stalkers could use this information for malicious intent and physical harm.  Knowing your history and applying powerful analytics, one can calculate where you will be going.  The predictability of the future is now conceivable.

Not unlike the iPhone’s introduction nearly 8 years ago, the Apple Watch is making a fashion statement. Consumers by the millions are rushing to be the first on the block but are they thinking about the privacy and security safeguards?  While the utility is compelling what about the consequences?  Apple’s CEO Tim Cook recently made bold statement that your data will never be shared, brokered and sold.  I applaud Apple’s commitment, but remain concerned on the unanticipated breach or forced legal disclosure of data. 

We are the “yes” generation, clicking on yes, to download an app or access for “free” yet rarely does anyone read the policy. This point was illustrated in the movie "The Kingsman: The Secret Service". Without disclosing the end of the movie, the villain is an internet billionaire known for his philanthropy. He announces a giveaway of SIM cards, granting free cellular and Internet access to everyone. Not surprisingly consumers flocked to stores to get their cards, but never asked or inquired on the privacy or security implications.  Unknown to everyone his plan was to broadcast a signal to the phones causing everyone to become uncontrollably violent and kill each solving the problems of over population. 

While I am not suggesting any of the recent security and privacy exploits are as sinister as was what was depicted in the movie, it serves a stark reminder for the need for self-regulation, supply chain integrity, adherence to security best practices and clear and concise consumer notices.

As leaders in interactive marketing you have significant opportunities for leadership.  

  1. Put the Consumer First. At the end of the day the data is theirs.  – Is your data strategy aligned with user expectations? If not re-engineer your strategy and do not defend it as saying your policy discloses it or others are doing it. 
  2. Make Security & Privacy by Design Job One.  A misstep will not only bring on regulatory oversight and fines but potentially irreversible reputational damage.
  3. Set The Course for The Future – Get involved and help make meaningful self-regulation a reality.   Step up to the plate. Put the consumer first and make a real fashion statement. 
  4. Join the OTA IoT Trustworthy Working Group (NDA & IPR required)