Data can be harvested via the Internet of Things (IoT) without the public's consent or permission, and more needs to be done to govern the organisations that use the IoT and protect individuals' privacy.
A panel of experts speaking recently at the IPExpo conference in London warned that the capital is a particular concern. The warnings come after a new IoT network was recently been switched on in the capital.
Harvey Lewis, a director at Deloitte MCS, pointed to CCTV networks in many large cities as an example of a connected technology that risks infringing privacy.
"CCTV cameras and other sensors are watching you and recording information about you, and algorithms can recognise and track you as you move from place to place," he said.
"Even if you're not instrumented yourself, data about you, your location and your health can be monitored even though you're not connected.
"A Japanese company has invented a technology that can measure your pulse and breathing rate using nothing but the modulation of WiFi signals in a room."
James Hatch, director of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, explained that there is a difference in the danger of IoT use when it affects consumers, as opposed to its more mature use in industrial environments.
"The challenges for the IoT around security and privacy are not solved. In the industrial world, with companies being responsible for the safety and reliability of their systems, that's manageable," he said.
"But where the IoT and consumer worlds overlap, individuals don't have the time, incentive or expertise to make intelligent decisions."
The panel had disagreed earlier at the event over the value of humans in understanding data produced by the IoT.
Hatch explained that the same dangers caused by a lack of consumer understanding are present when people download apps to mobile devices.
"You download an app, it asks if you're happy with the terms and conditions and we just accept them," he said.
"When that's not just taking abstracted data off your phone but taking physical data connected to it, there is a danger there that we overstep ourselves.
"There is a change in people's level of concern. New generations don't have big concerns about privacy."
Hatch also raised concerns about the growing importance of technologies that are yet to have such fundamental problems resolved.
"I'm worried about the creeping business criticality of these things. WiFi has only been widescale for five years or so. You start using it and think it's amazing, but it's now almost a fundamental human right" he said.
"So you get to a situation where some people take up IoT technologies thinking they're convenient, but they soon become critical to our lives.
"It will be critical in healthcare first, then we'll find we're dependent on it and no one's in charge of security and privacy."
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