This peer review of Ethical Design in the Internet of Things will be divided into two parts. In the first part I will summarize the most important conclusions of the article. In the second part I will specify three points of critique in terms of style and language of the article. Hopefully, the authors of the paper in question will find this peer review a useful resource when writing academic articles in the future.
Part 1: Summary of article
The article addresses the privacy risk related to the Internet of Things (IoT) by suggesting an ethical design that improves end-user’s control over their data. Here, the paper explains the IoT as the close integrations of objects in the physical world with the virtual world. Based on a brief literature review, the authors identify 11 specific challenges that must be addressed to secure that users of IoT devices have control over their data. The article recommends a technical solution called SecKit that enables users to easily modify permissions to their data. Consequently, the user knows exactly when, where and who has access to their data.
Part 2: three points of critique
Firstly, I want to critique the article’s repeating misuse of words. That is, applying words to an unfitting context of a sentence. Please consider the following example: “Contexts are shaped by technology, business practices, and industry sector or other features like geographic location, relationship, place…” a ‘feature’ is a part or a characteristic of a particular object. It makes little sense to use this word in this sentence. The correct word here would be factors, because it introduces, for instance, geographic location as an element that affects a certain situation, which in this case is the contexts.
Secondly, the article often to uses pretentious verbs and nouns that obscures the meaning of the text. Please look at the following example: “Some tensions exist between the technical measures for individual privacy enhancement and the business opportunities for digital-related commercial activities…” The purpose of the sentence is to highlight two opposing forces. However, they become difficult to grasp when described as two abstract phenomena. Instead, the two opposing forces could have been described simply as “Some tensions exist between privacy solutions and the market…” it is now clear between whom the tension exists. Afterwards, the text could then have elaborated on what is meant by the privacy solution and the market.
Lastly, the article tries to pack too many messages into one sentence. This confuses the reader at to what the author’s key point is. For instance: “Where the future is unpredictable by definition, it is clear that increased data generation by the emergence and further immersion of the IoT, in combination with innovation and advancement of big data analytics, will change the landscape…”. The sentence has two messages: (1) that increased data changes the landscape and (2) that increased data generations comes with the IoT. One should ask; what is the key message I want to deliver in this sentence? If there is more than one answer to this question, the sentence probably suffers from cognitive dissonance. The correct treatment for this diagnosis is simply to isolate each message in their own sentence.
These three points of critique are general to the text. Hopefully, the author’s will be aware of these pitfalls when writing academic articles in the future.