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Financial Dagblad, 25 July 2015: 'Latest technology step calls for plan of attack'

Some excerpts from an article by TNO scientist David Langley in the FD of Saturday 25 July 2015:

There is money to be made with wirelessly connected things - the 'internet of things'. Avoid the trap of opting for one product variant and forge alliances outside your own sector. And take note: privacy protection legislation offers opportunities.

Around the world, technology developers are hard at work on the 'internet of things', where physical objects like cars, clothes and even cows are connected to the internet. Many Dutch entrepreneurs also feel they need to grab the innovation opportunities with both hands. The only question is: how?


In addition to these business considerations, the Internet of Things raises new social issues that entrepreneurs need to take into account. One of these is legislation around the use of the gigantic and ever-expanding amount of data being produced. In a notable court case, which could have a major impact, Bas Filippini of the Dutch Privacy First went to the European Court of Human Rights to take a stand against privacy violations by a precursor of the internet of things: motorway section controls. Because the speed of all motorists is continuously monitored, Filippini said, "every motorist [...] now ends up in a police database as a potential suspect and God knows how that data is used. This violates the hard-won principle of our democratic rule of law: privacy may only be invaded if there is a concrete indication of a criminal offence. It is a remarkable case because soon not only our driving but, due to the internet of things, all our physical behaviour will be closely monitored by many organisations at home and abroad, even more so than is already the case, via our mobile phones.

'Privacy is old-fashioned'

Some, like futurologist Jeremy Rifkin, argue that privacy is an old-fashioned idea, a peculiarity of the industrial age. Yet many people do not like the idea when organisations and strangers have almost unlimited access to their lives.

There will be new EU legislation, the General Data Protection Regulation, which updates privacy laws to the characteristics of digital technologies. This may drastically limit the permissible processing of data via the internet of things. Processing may in many cases only take place with the consent of the citizen. What will remain of the internet of things when citizens refuse this consent en masse?

This problem also presents an innovation opportunity for the Netherlands. We can come up with ideas for applications where the protection of our data is built into the design. Where each individual chooses what his or her data is used for based on the benefits the person sees for him or herself. This does not fit the Facebook and Google model of free commercial access to personal data, but it could be the future of the internet of things.

(...) This way, the Netherlands can become a forerunner, instead of other countries leaving us behind."

Source: Financieel Dagblad 25 July 2015, section Thinking differently, p. 5. The full article is available free online at