Emerging Theories of Responsibility in the Internet of Things Era | Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates, & Woodyard, PLLC

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The Internet of Things (“IoT”) has ushered in a new era of connectivity and convenience, but with it comes a host of legal issues and emerging liability theories. As IoT devices become more commonplace in our daily lives, from smart homes to industrial control systems, potential security breaches, privacy violations and other risks raise questions about who should be held accountable when things go wrong. . In this blog post, we will highlight some of the emerging legal issues that appear to be increasingly important in future technology-related litigation.

1. Effectiveness of security measures: One of the most pressing issues surrounding IoT devices is their sometimes lax security measures. Some IoT devices lack strong security, encryption, and/or privacy controls, leaving them vulnerable to cyberattacks and unauthorized access to sensitive personal information. This could create risks for consumers and businesses, as attackers could exploit vulnerabilities to compromise users or compromise sensitive data. The new theory of responsibility will be tested around the theory that organizations have a responsibility to account for these risks and take steps to mitigate them.

2. Network vulnerability management of disposable hardware and equipment: Another challenge in the IoT space is the prevalence of cheap hardware that is often viewed as disposable. Unlike traditional computing devices that receive regular software updates and security patches, many IoT devices are not designed to be updated or maintained over time. A lack of ongoing support leaves devices vulnerable to cyber vulnerabilities and makes it difficult for manufacturers to address security issues after the fact. If the organization’s IT policies and procedures allow individual employees to use personal hardware to perform organizational tasks, or the organization purchases and allocates a variety of inexpensive hardware, some organizations will find it necessary to ensure that sensitive data is generated by and stored on such disposable hardware The data is fully protected and cleaned.

3. Numerous potential entry points for malicious actors: IoT devices can serve as potential entry points for malicious actors into other computer networks and systems. Once inside the network, attackers may leverage IoT devices to launch further attacks or gain unauthorized access to sensitive data. This highlights the importance of securing IoT devices, not just for the device itself, but also to protect the broader ecosystem of connected devices and systems.

4. Strengthen monitoring of data and privacy risks: The widespread adoption of IoT devices has also raised concerns about increased monitoring and surveillance of individuals’ daily activities. From smart home devices that track our movements to wearable fitness trackers that monitor our health data, IoT devices have the potential to collect vast amounts of personal information without consumers’ knowledge or consent. This raises privacy concerns for individuals and, where an organization owns the data, it can also cause problems if the organization accesses or relies on that data in certain decisions. For example, consider a device that collects location data and shares that data with devices managed by the organization’s IT department. In the FLSA case, location data can be used to show whether someone is working at certain times. In injury cases, location data can be used to show whether an employee was acting within the scope of their job at the time of the incident. In employment discrimination cases, data can be used to show that the employer has access to the information or to demonstrate that the employer cannot access the information. Particularly if the organization has access to such data, in any of these examples a litigant may attempt to argue that the employer knew or should have known something, or defensively to show that the employer did not actually know something.These are some illustrative examples, but they all emphasize that data collection, management and use are this Future issues in certain areas.

5. Concerns about public safety: Perhaps the most concerning risk associated with IoT devices is the potential risk to public safety. A malfunction or hacking incident involving IoT devices could have catastrophic consequences, such as a self-driving car crashing due to hacker interference or attackers compromising IoT networks used to operate critical infrastructure. These scenarios have attracted the attention of regulators, who have called for strong security measures and regulatory oversight to ensure the security and integrity of IoT systems.

6. Algorithmic discrimination: Finally, there are growing concerns that the use of algorithms in IoT systems may lead to discriminatory decision-making. Even unknowingly, companies may deploy algorithms that some later claim may lead to biased outcomes that perpetuate inequality and injustice in society. This raises important questions about accountability and transparency in algorithmic decision-making, as well as potential legal implications for companies deploying biased algorithms. For example, Connecticut introduced a bill in the past month that would require developers of high-risk artificial intelligence systems to “take reasonable care to protect consumers from any known or reasonably foreseeable risk of algorithmic discrimination.” Additionally, the bill prohibits the dissemination of certain composite images. Connecticut is one of the latest, but not the only, states to address alleged algorithmic discrimination through state legal solutions.

In summary, the rise of IoT technology brings unprecedented opportunities for innovation and connectivity, but it also creates new risks and potential legal challenges that test a range of emerging liability theories. As the Internet of Things continues to develop, new laws and regulations will emerge, and court cases will test the scope and boundaries of liability in this new era.

This content was generated in part by ChatGPT and prepared for publication with the assistance of ChatGPT.

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