Will European regulation put the brakes on IoT adoption?

Will European regulation put the brakes on IoT adoption?

Incoming European regulation could give customers greater oversight over the IoT, says shadow minister Chi Onwurah, but could this stifle business adoption of these technologies?

LONDON, UK – Speaking as the opening keynote speaker at the Internet of Insurance, Onwurah encouraged the UK government to do more to drive digital inclusion and to embrace the IoT age, but warned that leadership and a ‘well-informed’ debate is needed if some of the challenges around IoT adoption – such as privacy, security and data ownership – are to be overcome.

And yet it was arguably on European legislation where Onwurah was most thought provoking, mentioning how the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation and the EU Digital Single Market (DSM) could put more restraints, and greater oversight, on IoT data.

Related: Chi Onwurah says government can do more for Internet of Things, digital inclusion

GDPR and digital concerns

Onwurah, who describes herself as an ‘IoT champion’, said that consent, privacy and security are the biggest concerns around the IoT and – mentioning GDPR and DSM – added that these will “tighten and not loosen the rules around these areas.” Interestingly, this point of view was later backed up by NTT Data UK managing director Edo Tealdi who said that GDPR will offer ‘extra cover’ to the consumer and their data.

However, the use of data remains a pertinent issue and Onwurah believes there is a growing risk of citizens developing ‘digital discomfort’; the idea that people become worried or concerned about how their information is being used online by technology giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook.

“IoT has to develop in the interest of the citizen,” she stressed.

Going forward, Onwurah sees five areas of digital concern that will need to be addressed if IoT is to be truly embraced:


Who controls your data and why?

Whose algorithm is it anyway?

Digital labour rights (E.g. what are the rights of the Uber driver)

Digital inclusion

She went onto claim that the government still hasn’t “got its head around” digital rights, despite recent changes to UK law, such as the introduction of the IP Bill.

And Onwurah warned the government must apply new frameworks and principles around the Internet of Things, as well as develop the digital infrastructure needed for faster and more pervasive connectivity. In the short term, she says that there’s a need for more web addresses (through the IPv6 protocol) and to get more UK citizens onto the Internet.

“If we don’t improve, there is a danger we end up in the same position. A more connected world doesn’t happen by magic.

“IoT needs action to make it a reality,” she said. “IoT is not rocket science. It’s not even science. It’s already here.”

Mentioning the Gartner hype cycle, and the fact IoT has previously been mentioned by the Chancellor, she said that a ‘well-informed debate’ is now needed on how to progress the IoT beyond the hype.

Related: Queen’s Speech sees UK target digital economy, driverless cars

Insurance industry – ready to adopt IoT?

The Internet of Insurance focused extensively on IoT in insurance, noting the opportunity for insurers to build new revenue streams, engage with customers and reduce risk by pooling people into social groups.

Onwurah to date has seen the most opportunity in public transport and other areas, but believes too that there’s opportunity for insurers to innovate through the Internet of Things.

“I can see that IoT is the biggest transformation to the insurance industry since shipping,” added Onwurah, continuing that while it doesn’t fundamentally change risk, it changes “almost everything we know about risk.”