This article is written by Arti Sharma of Army Institute of Law Mohali, Punjabi University, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
Today’s time is all about looking forward and upskilling in every field possible. One of the major reasons for the development that we as a nation are doing is technology. Technology focuses on making our lives smoother, easier and better. In this article, we will be reading about such a tool that makes our life easy and that is Internet of Things or IoT. The article focuses on the general meaning of the term IoT, what are the various places where it is applicable and what is the legal picture of it. We will be reading about the actual scenario of IoT and how to use it optimally.
Internet of things, IoT user, Service Provider, Smart Homes, Data Privacy and Protection, Legal Liability, E-contracts, Data Ownership.
We live in a world of technology, and the fact is we cannot imagine our life without it. As the world is evolving, one of the major attempts of human is to make his life smooth, secure and growing with each passing time. Today’s problem requires today’s solution. And it is need of the hour to update with technology for living the life at its fullest and utilize the maximum time possible.
Just imagine, you woke up in the morning for work because of your automatic alarm and as your alarm stops your blinds open on their own then after that your water get heated for shower and next to that your coffee machine starts making coffee on its own. Well, it’s all possible in today’s world with just one click due to Internet of Things. This is just a single aspect of technology, now imagine the whole city is being monitored by such technology or tools. Wouldn’t that be so convenient and easy for people to make their life easy and focus on the productive part of it? Imagining all this and even more is possible in today’s era because of the technology.
This latest revolution is transforming numerous lives, here a person can check status of his kid’s security and wellbeing with a cell phone or device and can even monitor that too. All these changes and developments are becoming part of daily life and are now considered as new normal because of Internet of Things. But the thing that we don’t know is that majority of the people were using IOT previously even before that buzz or hype, that too in the form of smart watches and android or IOS processors famously known AI (artificial intelligence) as Siri and Alexa.
The term Internet of Things or IOT does not have an exact definition or meaning and it is not confined to mere terminologies, it has a very wide scope. If we try to put it in words it can be expressed as an idea of connecting things via. Internet. Elaborating more, the term Internet of things can be defined as interconnectivity between the man made things like cars, air conditioners, house locks, hospital machinery, water heaters etc. through Internet network. The connectivity of human beings through internet is usually called as social networking such as calling or chatting via whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook etc. But on the other hand, when things are connected via. wireless networks such as internet or Bluetooth for the smooth functioning of work such connectivity is known as Internet of Things. Such as Fit bit is connected to our health and monitors the data related to it. There are numerous examples of IOT that are related to our daily life also, and as the society is developing with the technology such examples are also rising rapidly.
It is very much expected that IOT will own the future. From your coffee machine, adjusting water temperature, child monitoring, scheduling meetings, heath checks, car maintenance notification to journalising your whole day, everything will be managed and performed by IOT. Further factories can use IOT for having their inventory check and other important tasks. The national agencies can use it as a surveillance for criminals and other ill factors of the societies. Overall, the internet of things is going to be heavily beneficial to the society as a whole in the near future.
APPLICABILITY OF IOT (INTERNET OF THINGS)
Whenever we think about IOT, the first thing that strikes in our mind is its applicability in home appliances that makes a home smart and updated. For e.g. Automatic water heaters, lights, home security, etc. The main focus of smart home is to monitor home appliances and check for any issues in it through personal smartphones and computer screens.
The best model is Jarvis, it is personal home automation, and the Facebook founder has created one for his home. The same model is mentioned in the Hollywood movie called Iron Man series where the working and functioning of Jarvis is explained.
Health and Fitness
The IoT is being used in the ailment of many diseases primarily of chronic nature in medical areas and also helps in controlling certain ailments and diseases. Remote checking is made accessible through the connection of ground-breaking wireless arrangements. Healthcare IoT allows patients to invest more time in interacting with their doctors, which can help patient engagement and satisfaction. As IoT helps in speeding up the process which results in saving time. There are certain gadgets such as fit bit bands, smart beds that are primarily used by the hospitals or the patients themselves to monitor their functioning and issues in order to have a proper check on their problem.
In the same way people who are not associated with any medical conditions or issues also prefer to go for Smart Wearable such as Apple smart watches and armband. The main purpose of such gadget is to provide with basic data related to an individual such as his work notifications and overall wellbeing like heart rate, calorie count, etc.
One of the major factor and contributor in development of a country is its agriculture sector, and now a days the Government of India is primarily focusing on the upliftment of farming and farmers as well. Many updated machineries has been introduced and the technical know-how of such machinery to the farmers is also been considered. Majority of such machinery is based on the Smart Farming concept.
There are various IoT applications in agriculture, for example, gathering information related to various aspects of farming such as temperature measurement, precipitation probability, and dampness of the soil, wind speed, bug pervasion, and soil content. This information can be utilized to mechanize agricultural procedures, make informed choices to improve quality as well as quantity, limit waste, and reduce the effort required in rearing crops. IoT innovation also allows the observing and control of the plant and animal items during the entire life cycle from ranch to fork. It also includes farmer’s upskilling and development as now farmers can screen soil temperature and dampness from sitting in their respective homes, and even apply IoT-procured information to accuracy fertilization programs. In short risk management and more productivity that too with upskilling the farmers and cultivators.
There are numerous places where the IoT is been used in today’s time, such areas includes, Autonomous Driving (bullet trains), Supply chain, Predictive maintenance in after sale services for better customer experience, Analytics, Energy management, Asset tracking etc.
LEGALITY OF IOT (INTERNET OF THINGS) AND ISSUES INVOLVED
Indian cyber laws that primarily covers the protection of information and the security of data plus the things associated to it. Such laws in India are at toddler stage and are still evolving. The only statute pertaining such laws in the nation is the Information Technology Act, 2000 and “Reasonable practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information Rules, 2011”. There are certain major issues related to Internet of Things listed below as per its legality.
Data Privacy and Protection
The number of IoT devices are increasing rapidly day by day and its interdependency on the internet and other networks is also rising simultaneously which makes it an easy prey for the hackers and fishers to exploit the personal and public data for their own benefit. For controlling such offences, we have IT Act 2000 and Reasonable practices and procedures and sensitive personal data or information Rules, 2011 issued under Section 43A of the ITA. Section 43A talks about the Compensation for failure to protect data.-Where a body corporate, possessing, dealing or handling any sensitive personal data in a computer resource which it owns, controls or operates, is negligent in implementing and maintaining reasonable security practices and procedures and thereby causes wrongful loss or wrongful gain to any person, such body corporate shall be liable to pay damages by way of compensation to the person so affected. And further section 72 of the IT Act imposes penalty for such breach.
The above point gives rise to security issues also. If the data is shared or hacked via. IoT, then it is very much obvious that the security of a person or even the institution can be compromised and further used as a threat towards that person or institution. The biggest drawback and advantage of IoT is its interconnectivity with objects, for example a hacker can easily hacks the information from a table lamp which is further connected to your personal smartphone. The bullet trails and driverless cars which have autonomous or no drivers are hugely criticised for the risk factor involved in it, that can lead to many accidents and many physical or monetary loss also.
Just imagine a scenario that you got back from work, open the door and find some of the things missing in your home, someone (hacker ) gets in your system and open your smart door and steals your valuable items, now the question is who is responsible for such breech? The manufacturer of your mobile? Or the creator of the app that interconnect all your smart devices? In this case it gets very hard to establish legal liability when it comes to IoT.
We know that there are multiple stakeholders involved in IoT, and each data is associated or connected with numerous data processors, so it is the duty of the service provider to focus on the line of data so that it’s not lost. For that the outsourcing of such task is the best way so it will naturally build a track record and communication between the consumer and service providers. This will also help in reducing complexities and chaos between multiple data processors and data providers.
The problem of data ownership and chaotic functioning of IoT can be easily solved by entering into e- contract between the three parties involved such as the IoT service provider, IoT user and the device manufacturer which supports IoT. Such contracts will help in building clarity, liability and will also help in knowing the role of each stakeholder involved.
Intellectual Property Rights
One of the facets of IoT is that it generates data or information with its functioning. The content and the information created by such devices is of different nature depending on the nature and applicability of IoT. For e.g. the data generated by the IoT if Smart homes will automatically generate data relating to the personal information of that home or the people living in it. Now the issue is who owns the right of that particular data generated? If the owner of such rights is not mentioned or known then it’s very easy to manipulate or misuse such data and no one can claim the remedy of the losses created by misuse. So, it is very necessary to establish the ownership of such data and information so that they can commercialise and licensing the data.
- The passwords should be strong and resettable, that builds a strong foundation and is hard to crack.
- The software used in IoT should be secure and updated time to time so that it automatically finishes any ambiguity.
- The data collected from IoT should be within the premise of IT Act, 2000. Which means in should be collected and secured in such a way which makes it a secure and protected data.
- The software that is being used should be verified thoroughly so that it automatically demolishes the coming threats.
- The law should make stricter regarding the exploitation of sensitive information so that it creates a deter effect in the eyes of wrongdoers.
CASE LAWS PERTAINING TO INTERNET OF THINGS
- Ferid Allani v. Union of India, in this matter, both the IPO and the erstwhile appellate authority, Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB), rejected Ferid Allani’s patent application for a computer program. The appellant, Ferid Allani, filed a writ petition in the DHC against IPAB’s order. The DHC held that “if the invention demonstrates technical effect or technical contribution, it is patentable despite being based on computer programmes.” The DHC further added that the bar on patenting is only on ‘computer programs per se’ and not on all inventions based upon computer programs, thus re-emphasizing JPC’s intent not to reject patents for computer programmes if they have additional elements like technical effect or technical Contribution. The DHC then directed the IPO to re-examine the patent application and eventually, the patent was granted.
- Vinit Kumar v. CBI and Others, in this case The Union Home Ministry issued an order that allowed businessmen’s calls to be intercepted in this instance, and the petitioner challenged the orders in the High Court of Bombay because they violated their right to privacy. The directives were overturned by the court because there was no legitimate cause for them. Two sections deal with data disclosure. Any violations of the Information Technology Act of 2000’s data protection provisions.
We are already experiencing a speedy hike in the gadgets and equipment supporting IoT. This new lifestyle is a one step toward upgrading the life and its quality. It is saving time as well as lives also. If we talk about smart homes, an individual do not need to plan his day, drive his car, make his own cup of coffee anymore, all these things are performed by IoT now. Even in case of hospital IoT is playing a vital role, helping the medical staff to monitor numerous patients in shorter span of time. In short it is making our life easy. But that’s not the only picture. IoT is also giving rise to unethical hacking and frauds by accessing the devices and monitoring them for adverse reasons. The problem increases more if the information hacked or illegally obtained from IoT is sensitive and can cause great damage. So, it is the moral duty of the IoT user whether an individual or an institution to have proper security check as mentioned above and the legislations should also be updated by keeping mind the future and the consequences of IoT along with the crimes or offences that can take place by IoT.
 Shreya Malhotra, Application and legal challenges of the Internet of Things, Ipleaders Blogs (Jan. 4, 2024 9:26 AM), https://blog.ipleaders.in/application-legal-challenges-internet-things/
 Anirudh Sarin and Trademark Attorney, Legal Issues Pertaining to Internet of Things, IIPRD (Jan. 4, 2024, 10:11 PM), https://www.iiprd.com/legal-issues-pertaining-to-internet-of-things-iot/?utm_source=mondaq&utm_medium=syndication&utm_term=Privacy&utm_content=articleoriginal&utm_campaign=article
 Information Technology Act, 2000, S. 43A, No.21, Act of Parliament, 2000 (India).
 Ferid Allani v. Union of India, WP(C) 7 of 2014
 Vinit Kumar v. CBI and Others WP No.2367 of 2019
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