When the Bin is Spying on you: Keeping data private on the Internet of Things

17-bin.jpgEvery so often the Daily Mail likes to publish a story about how the government will put computers in our bins so that they can spy on how much rubbish we’re putting out and charge us more money.

Well. One or two such pilot projects have failed – but, unfortunately for the Mail, measuring stuff like this is the future and a lot more than bins will have computer chips in them in 10 years time.

We can expect them in everything from bins to barbie dolls – see our 10 uses of the Internet of Things story – but the Mail was right in one respect. With so much of our private data washing around the internet, we need to think about how we’re going to keep it safe.

Privacy will be an issue though.

One solution though is one that we’ve been using for 20 years – SIM cards. SIM cards are pretty near as damn secure. Text messages to the right number go to the right phone – they can guarantee the identity of the sender and receiver of messages. Data that was sent or received using this method of authentication is likely to be safe.

Well – that’s how the technology could do it, whether that’s how people at either end will do it is another question. With much more sensitive data potentially available – healthcare records, blood-pressure monitors, information about what’s in your fridge – any leaks due to human error, hacks or corporate interests could have much bigger impact.

Related: Has Facebook got too complicated? Site doesn’t even “notice” latest data leak

Anna Leach