IoT in the News: First Rulling by F.T.C. on The Internet of Things

On Wednesday, the Federal Trade Commission took its first action to protect consumers from reckless invasions of privacy in the realm of the Internet of Things, penalizing a company that sells Web-enabled video cameras for lax security practices.

According to the F.T.C., the company, TRENDnet, told customers that its products were “secure,” marketing its cameras for home security and baby monitoring. In fact, the devices were compromised. The commission said a hacker in January 2012 exploited a security flaw and posted links to the live feeds, which “displayed babies asleep in their cribs, young children playing and adults going about their daily lives.”

As part of the case, TRENDnet agreed to sanctions that include a 20-year security-compliance auditing program. The company also promised not to misrepresent the security of its cameras, the confidentiality of the activity that its devices transmit, or consumers’ ability to control the security of the cameras or their recordings. The agency’s four current commissioners voted unanimously for the sanctions.

The F.T.C. does not have the legal authority to impose fines in such cases. But TRENDnet agreed to a consent order prohibiting similar practices, so the commission has the ability to seek penalties in the future.

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