How to save the world from IoT

Excutive summary


Why we should care about The Internet of Things

Data is now the foundation of many modern business models. Corporations are selling intelligent object for their costumers which are specifically designed for extracting valuable data about their behavior. This phenomenon has been coined the Internet of Things (IoT) and includes products like smart watches, phones, cars and fridges. It is a business practice that has been growing silently without being questioned in terms of its ethical consequences for the users of the intelligent objects. As a consequence; citizens, corporation and politicians are left unaware and paralyzed has to how exactly they are to respond to the internet of things so it fosters prosperity for society as whole.

The aim of Project Virtue-EU is to clearly identify the challenges of IoT and offers solutions to these so it nurtures prosperity for all affected stakeholders

Corporations are using data for betting segmenting, creating innovation and grow their business.


IoT describes the incorporation of intelligent objects in citizens daily life, such as smart watches, that can track and store data on their behavior.


This virtually invisible practice has been growing the last decade without being questioned in terms of their ethical consequences for citizens. The project VIRT-EU was thus launched to clearly identify the


Virt-EU is an project that addresses ethical implications of the Internet of Things (IoT) for EU citizens. IoT describes the incorporation of intelligent objects in citizens daily life, such as smart watches, that can track and store data on their behavior. By reviewing academic papers in the field of IoT, the project identifies three main ethical implication of IoT: (1) lack of personal data privacy (2) lack of data security (3) data being monetized without fair compensation. When addressing these implication the challenge is to balance corporation’s economic growth created by citizen’ data and the citizens data privacy and security. The project therefore argues for a solution that is composed in collaboration with several stakeholders, including corporation, legislators, citizens and the academic community.

The scientific community recommends corporations to adopt an “ethical design” in their products that by design secures the user’s data security and privacy. The aim is to contextualize new technological designs taking into consideration, the ethical, legal, economical and technical aspects of smart objects both addressing users and companies producing them. However, the project argues for legal measures to implement such ethical design if corporation are unwilling to comply. Legislations remains a very effective tool to secure the rights of citizens and can be necessary. The challenge is in this regard is to create awareness of the ethical implications of IoT, so it becomes an agenda among the politicians of EU.

Privacy Law is unprepared

Protecting user’s privacy when using Internet of Thing devices is challenging because of the ease of identifying personal information. Even if the data does not include name, address or other obvious information, it would be relatively easy to re-identify the person. Assuming you are using a smartphone or wearing a health tracking device, someone can easily determine your identity, simply based on the data they retrieve from sensors installed in smart phones or the devices. The reason is straightforward: each of us has a unique characteristic like the  style of walking and where we walk.

Research suggests that anonymization of Internet of Things data is extremely difficult to  achieve, and to re-identify user’s information is far easier than expected. Researchers at MIT recently analyzed data from 1.5 million cell-phone users in Europe over fifteen months. They found that it was relatively easy to extract complete location information about the individual from an anonymized dataset. Due to the fact that advances in computer science makes it possible to attack and identify supposedly ‘anonymized’ databases. Thous making it insufficient to protect privacy with anonymity.

Privacy do not catch the interest of authorities. Corporate counsel, regulators, and legislators have yet to face the reality that Internet of Things user’s private data may all be identifiable. In short, privacy law—both on the books and on the ground ???– is unprepared for the threats created by the Internet of Things. To address this issue, a set of regulation should be prepared.

Some researchers suggest that we should distinguish information of user interacting with Internet of Thing to personal identifiable information and other data that is presumed not to reveal identity. This way, we can clearly identify which data that should be protected by rules, through a radical re-working of current laws and practices.


Overall the perfect solution has not yet been found why it demands more research within all stakeholders ranging from corporations, legislators, citizens and the academic community. One thing stands clear, we need to keep momentum, increase awareness and most importantly make the general public and its contributors care about privacy in relation to IoT. Over time we see an agreement by all shareholders rejoining in using one type of privacy methodology in how we will use and collect data in the future.


Jeppe Aagaard Glud

Scientists will prevent your car getting hacked with new ‘ethical’ technology

BRUSSELS – Lead Researcher, Gianmarco Baldini, of the Joint Research Centre is confident to have developed a tool, that effectively empowers the common citizen to fight back hackers.

During the last two years, Gianmarco and his team of researchers has worked intensively to perfect a solution addressing the growing concern about the data security of our everyday objects. Today, Gianmarco finally presented the new software tool SecKit at a press conference at European Council head office.

“With our invention, SecKit, technologically unskilled people can effectively control access and extraction of data from their connected things, such as their car. SecKit is your new shield against data criminals and hackers” Baldinina says at the press conference.

The Internet of Things promises an exciting era of innovation but also raises significant privacy and security concerns. Last fall, a Jeep was remotely killed by hackers while driving 70 mph on a highway around St. Luiz in the U.S. The driver survived but the incident became a symbol of the impotence among the common citizen in the question of control over their smart possessions

It is specifically security issues that tops the list of concerns among the scientists in the field of IoT. Your smart car, smart devices and smart fridges do not follow the security infrastructure of our PC’s and are therefore especially vulnerable to virtual thieves.

Frank Buytendijk, a research vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, has for many years warned about a lack of ethical design in our connected devices:

“Clearly, people must trust smart machines if they are to accept and use them”

Frank explains “ethical design” as the transparency and ability for the owner to control access and data transmission of their possessions. Something large corporations have been neglecting to create new innovations.

“As for today, the common citizens rely heavily on professionals to stay secure in the age of the internet of things. This creates an unethical discrimination among those who has the technical skills or money, and those who don’t. We believe control of intelligent things should be a basic human right” Gianmarco says.

Frank welcomes SecKit and praises the software as a cheap solution with high usability. There exist similar solutions as SecKit, but experts argue the main problem has been to balance usability with customizability and simplicity with complexity. Laws on data security are increasingly complex and have been difficult to manage through ethical design.

“Not only does SecKit stay up to date with all rules and regulations, but it also removes this particular concern from its user” Frank Says.

From next week SecKit will be introduced to our mobile devices and downloadable free of charge through IOS App store and PlayStore, starting from nest week. Gianmarco promises that SecKit will be implemented to all Volkswagen cars from next year as default.



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.