Mon, Mar 03, 2014 - Page 14 News List

Expo highlights promise, peril in Web-linked world

AP, BARCELONA, Spain

Meanwhile, Cityzen hired athletes to demonstrate its connected fabric by playing basketball. Data fly to a smartphone app using Bluetooth wireless technology.

Gilbert Reveillon, international managing director for Cityzen, said he has had interest from a UK car insurance company and Chinese hospitals. Health data can tell you whether you are fit to drive and can call paramedics in an emergency.

Some customers might worry about security, given recent breaches compromising credit and debit card numbers at Target and other major retailers.

Determined hackers seem to constantly find loopholes. Imagine someone spying on you remotely through security cameras in your home or tricking your home security system into believing your car is approaching, so it opens your garage door automatically.

AT&T emphasizes that it uses encryption and other safeguards for its connected services, which include security monitoring and energy-efficiency controls in homes.

Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president of emerging enterprises and partnerships, said the US wireless carrier goes through extensive security certification and exceeds industry recommendations.

Reveillon said any data sharing by Cityzen will be in aggregate form, with users’ identities removed. He said individual users could decide to share more information, but that would be up to them. He said French government regulators are quite strict about that.

However, US government regulation is not, and a US government subpoena is typically enough to override any promises of privacy. Once the information is available, privacy advocates say, it is tempting to find other uses for it.

Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard University, said it is difficult for people to say no when presented with immediate benefits because any potential problems are vague and years away.

“Information seems harmless and trivial at the moment, but can be recorded forever … and can be combined with other data,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve come to terms with that yet.”

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