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Schneier: How the IoT Limits Comsumer Choice

Accepted submission by fliptop at 2015-12-29 17:48:52
Digital Liberty

Bruce Schneier writes in The Atlantic [theatlantic.com]:

In theory, the Internet of Things—the connected network of tiny computers inside home appliances, household objects, even clothing—promises to make your life easier and your work more efficient. These computers will communicate with each other and the Internet in homes and public spaces, collecting data about their environment and making changes based on the information they receive. In theory, connected sensors will anticipate your needs, saving you time, money, and energy.

Except when the companies that make these connected objects act in a way that runs counter to the consumer’s best interests...

After giving examples of the Philips Hue light bulb [soylentnews.org] and Keurig coffee pod [soylentnews.org] DRM issues, Schneier explains how these companies rely on the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA law to stop competitors from reverse-engineering proprietary standards. He continues:

Because companies can enforce anti-competitive behavior this way, there’s a litany of things that just don’t exist, even though they would make life easier for consumers in significant ways. You can’t have custom software for your cochlear implant, or your programmable thermostat, or your computer-enabled Barbie doll.

[...] As the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent, so too will this kind of anti-competitive behavior—which undercuts the purpose of having smart objects in the first place.

[...] We can’t have this when companies can cut off compatible products, or use the law to prevent competitors from reverse-engineering their products to ensure compatibility across brands. For the Internet of Things to provide any value, what we need is a world that looks like the automotive industry, where you can go to a store and buy replacement parts made by a wide variety of different manufacturers. Instead, the Internet of Things is on track to become a battleground of competing standards, as companies try to build monopolies by locking each other out.

Related:
Keurig Cup DRM cracked [soylentnews.org]
Philips Backs Down Over Light Bulb DRM [soylentnews.org]


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