Articles like the one in the Washington Post and other sites about the Garadget owner banning a customer from using it’s IoT garage door opener after some questionable behavior have to cause people to start paying attention to this age where you are paying for a physical product that is tied to a service hosted in the cloud. The lines have been blurred when you truly own something free and clear and when a company or brand can revoke your usage of the item you purchased at any time and for what could be reasons not clearly defined. In the case above simply negative attitude, press and some would still say expression of free speech caused his garage door to be disabled making it unusable, the company offered a full refund but that is not the case, the power to remotely disable and revoke access to use a service can indeed pose many issues for consumer rights as well as risks.
We all know most modern cars have remote features where the company or service you are paying for can lock, unlock and even use GPS to locate the vehicle wherever it is. This primarily is used as an emergency response tool to help send help, assist if you need help or even locate a stolen vehicle. But without considering internet safety this can in the wrong hands lead to disabling people inside their cars, and the more automated cars get the more risks like forced acceleration, breaking and even remote steering could lead to incidents.
Thermostats connected to the Internet and clouds can potentially put people in risk if they are vulnerable to cold or heat, a mistake in setting a temperate too high can cause dehydration and health problems, or too low at night could cause other illness. Think I am being paranoid maybe?
Mostly this will be brands I think forcing consumers to be afraid to speak out about a service they are not happy with, but overall may not want to jump ship from the product. Retaliation fears may make people not want to speak the truth for fear of having services disabled. What if Microsoft for example disabled your entire Windows 10 remotely just because you bad mouthed the company or product online in a very unprofessional way? They do have the power to revoke and do this, fortunately I don’t know of any incidents where they actually have yet.
So if you know control or access to something you use and paid for can be revoked at any time should a company want to, this also means you really don’t own it free and clear. You bought hardware and are leasing or being given permission to use the cloud or Internet connected service. This blurs the line of ownership and really this is nothing new and will continue to grow to be a problem. The other is smaller companies who sell products which are tied to a cloud service and they get bought out or go out of business with the necessary service being shut down or decommissioned leaving you with a physical product that does not work anymore.
What is your level of comfort with Internet connected devices, what are you willing to let speak to the cloud and store data in the cloud vs what do you require that it will always be offline and in your complete control? Let me know your thoughts.
About the Author
Carter Michaelson writers for sites online while attending college to help cover tuition and living expenses. Sometimes he even leverages WriteMyEssayOnline to help with papers and other essay writing services to save time and produce content on demand.