On March 2nd, the Family Online Safety Institute convened an event to discuss the Internet of Things and its implications for safety, privacy, and security. The discussion bought together experts in the field in a panel debate. It featured Justin Brookman from the Center for Democracy and Technology, Henry Claypool, from the American Association of People with Disabilities, Karen Jagielski representing the Federal Trade Commission and Adam Thierer of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.
Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI, provided opening remarks and set the stage for the discussion. The Internet of Things incorporates many different devices but at its core it encompasses objects that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity, which allow the ‘things’ to connect to the Internet. With all of the great opportunities that these technologies bring, there are concerns about the privacy and security implications, this has led to a specific report from the Federal Trade Commission published this year and a Congressional hearing in 2015 alone.
Karen Jagielski outlined the details of the FTC report. She spoke about the workshop that they held in advance of writing the document and some of the recommendations that they made. She focused on the importance of baking privacy and security into the development process, as well as the advantages of deidentified data. The report recommended baseline privacy and security legislation that would cover the Internet of Things, but would not be solely focused on it.
Adam followed Karen, and talked about the importance of allowing innovation to flourish, to avoid regulation that might have unintended consequences and stifle progress. He discussed the need to develop best practices, but did not think that that was a role for Government. He also highlighted the importance of education in protecting the security and privacy of consumers.
One of the many groups that will benefit from the Internet of Things is the disabled community, and Henry Claypool was there to draw attention to the opportunities that are offered. Connected fridges allow blind people to live independently, and connected cars permit those who would otherwise be isolated to participate more in their community. Any regulation must be cognoscente of these facts, and community engagement with industry on these topics is vital.
Finally, Justin spoke about the serious harms that could result from the mishandling of data and breaches that could occur. He talked about the importance of balancing the benefits with the risks, and the need for awareness and protection for all consumers. He highlighted the role that transparency has to play in creating informed consumers who are able to better manage their use and sharing of data.
Questions from the audience focused on the benefits of the technology, and all participants agreed that this was an incredibly exciting space. Everything that can be done to protect consumers, while ensuring innovation continues must be pursued.
Senior Research Fellow
Mercatus Center, George Mason University
Adam Thierer is a Senior Research Fellow with the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He specializes in technology, media, Internet, and free-speech policies, with a particular focus on online safety and digital privacy. His writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and Forbes, and he has appeared on national television and radio. Thierer is a frequent guest lecturer and has testified numerous times on Capitol Hill.
Thierer has authored or edited eight books on topics ranging from media regulation and child safety issues to the role of federalism in high-technology markets. His latest book is Permissionless Innovation: The Continuing Case for Comprehensive Technological Freedom.
He contributes to the Technology Liberation Front, a leading tech policy blog. Thierer has served on several distinguished online safety task forces, including Harvard University’s Internet Safety Technical Task Force and the federal government’s Online Safety Technology Working Group.
Previously, Thierer was president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, director of telecommunications studies at the Cato Institute, and a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Thierer received his MA in international business management and trade theory at the University of Maryland and his BA in journalism and political philosophy from Indiana University.
FTC Division of Privacy and Identity Protection
Karen Jagielski is a Senior Attorney in the FTC’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection. In her 15 years at the FTC, she has represented the Commission in numerous matters involving privacy and security, FCRA, GLB, and deceptive advertising. She previously served as counsel to the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection under Howard Beales and Lydia Parnes. Most recently, Ms. Jagielski led the Commission’s workshop on the Internet of Things held on November 19, 2013.
Ms. Jagielski received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Cornell University in 1994 and was elected to the Order of the Coif. Prior to joining the FTC in 1998, Ms. Jagielski was an Assistant Defender for the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she tried hundreds of bench and jury trials.
Henry Claypool currently works as an independent consultant. His clients include a unique mix of technology companies and organizations working on health care policy. His work with the technology sector allows companies and organizations to build a deeper appreciation of the user experience from a disability perspective. He serves as a Senior Fellow at the Future of Privacy Forum. At the American Association of People with Disabilities, he facilitates the organization’s technology forum, which is a monthly meeting developed to foster dialogue between industry and the national organizations that represent people with disabilities. He is affiliated faculty at the University of California San Francisco where he works as the policy director for Community Living Policy Center at the Institute on Health and Aging.
Claypool has an extensive record of public service with his most recent appointment in January 2017 to serve on the Department of Transportation’s Advisory Committee on Automated Transportation. In 2013, President Obama appointed him to serve on the Federal Commission on Long Term Care while at AAPD. From 2009-2013, he served as the Director of the Office on Disability and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. He has over two decades of experience with the Social Security Act entitlement programs - Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.
Director, Consumer Privacy Project
Center for Democracy & Technology
Justin Brookman is the Director of CDT’s Consumer Privacy Project. He coordinates CDT’s advocacy on corporate collection, use, and retention of personal information, including efforts to enact comprehensive privacy legislation in the United States and to strengthen privacy law in Europe. Justin has testified before House and Senate Committees on location privacy and data security, as well as the general need for stronger consumer privacy protections. He also leads CDT’s work on behavioral advertising and the development of a “Do Not Track” setting for web browsers, and serves as editor of the compliance specification in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standardization process. Under Justin’s direction, CDT has filed formal complaints with the Federal Trade Commission against companies that violate users’ privacy and free expression rights. He also runs the Internet Privacy Working Group, a diverse set of privacy stakeholders including industry participants and other advocates, to formulate best practices guidance and inform CDT’s own views on emerging privacy issues.
Prior to joining CDT in January 2010, Justin was Chief of the Internet Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s office. Under his leadership, the Internet Bureau was one of the most active and aggressive law enforcement groups working on Internet issues, and Justin brought to court several groundbreaking cases to protect the rights of online consumers. He brought the first regulatory actions against spyware and adware companies, as well as against the advertisers who funded those companies. He also litigated several privacy cases against companies who misused or misappropriated consumers’ personal information, including the first enforcement of Gramm-Leach-Bliley’s restrictions on the use of consumer financial data. In 2009, Justin brought the first case against a company for “astroturfing,” the act of seeding Internet message boards and blogs with fake positive reviews. He also brought important actions to preserve free speech online and to preserve network neutrality.
Justin received his J.D. from the New York University School of Law in 1998 and his B.A. in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia in 1995. He began his career as a litigation associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP in both its New York and Washington offices.
Founder & CEO
Family Online Safety Institute
For the past 30 years, Stephen Balkam has had a wide range of leadership roles in the nonprofit sector in both the US and UK. He is currently the Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. FOSI’s mission is to make the online world safer for kids and their families. FOSI convenes the top thinkers and practitioners in government, industry and the nonprofit sectors to collaborate and innovate and to create a “culture of responsibility” in the online world.
Prior to FOSI, Stephen was the Founder and CEO of the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) and led a team which developed the world’s leading content labeling system on the web. While with ICRA, Stephen served on the US Child Online Protection Commission (COPA) in 2000 and was named one of the Top 50 UK Movers and Shakers, Internet Magazine, 2001.
In 1994, Stephen was named the first Executive Director of the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) which created a unique self-labeling system for computer games and then, in 1996, Stephen launched RSACi – a forerunner to the ICRA website labeling system. For his efforts in online safety, Stephen was given the 1998 Carl Bertelsmann Prize in Gutersloh, Germany, for innovation and responsibility in the Information Society and was invited to the first and subsequent White House Internet Summits during the Clinton Administration.
Stephen’s other positions include the Executive Director of the National Stepfamily Association (UK); General Secretary of the Islington Voluntary Action Council; Executive Director of Camden Community Transport as well as management positions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) and Inter-Action. Stephen’s first job was with Burroughs Machines (now Unisys) and he had a spell working for West Nally Ltd – a sports sponsorship PR company.
Stephen received a BA, magna cum laude, in Psychology from University College, Cardiff, Wales in 1977. A native of Washington, DC, Stephen spent many years in the UK and is now has dual citizenship. He writes regularly for the Huffington Post, appears often on TV and has appeared on nationally syndicated TV and radio programs such as MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC and has been interviewed by leading newspapers such as the Washington Post, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, radio and in the mainstream press. He has given presentations and spoken in 15 countries on 4 continents.