Regular items automatically re-ordered as the supplies run low – better manage- ment of household goods.
• Changes in health or diet could trigger an automatic request for a medical check-up – proactive healthcare monitoring.
KEY TERM INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT) In a background report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for a ministerial panel, the authors provided this definition:
IoT refers to an ecosystem in which applications and services are driven by data col- lected from devices that sense and interface with the physical world. In the Internet of Things, devices and objects have communication connectivity, either a direct connec- tion to the internet or mediated through local or wide area networks. (Working Party on Communication Infrastructures and Services Policy, 2016, p. 9)
Another aspect of the IoT is the industrial internet of things (IIoT). This considers IoT on an industrial scale, where, within towns and cities, different elements are connected, such as traffic lights and pollution sensors, drains and surface water out- put, outdoor temperatures and heating systems. The typical aspects that contribute to the IIoT are focused on improving energy production, healthcare, manufacturing and logistics. This has become a recognised phenomenon and there is a dedicated Industrial Internet Consortium, founded by organisations including IBM, Intel, General Electric (GE) and other technology companies.
Part of the IIoT is the concept of Smart Cities, which have been described by Yasir Mehmood and his colleagues as a ‘complex ecosystem characterized by the intensive use of information and communications technologies (ICT), aiming to make cities more attractive and more sustainable, and unique places for innovation and entre- preneurship’ (Mehmood et al., 2017, p. 16).
The move towards the smart city concept is only possible with sensors, cameras and mobile devices collecting and sharing data, part of which revolves around big data (see Key Term). The issue is whether you, as a future citizen of big cities, are happy being tracked, monitored and shared through an ecosystem.
There is a dark side to the Internet of Things, which is well described by researchers David De Cremer, Bang Nguyen and Lyndon Simkin who highlighted potential abuses at different stages from transaction, gathering knowledge, the ongoing relationship and integrity. The main issues raised were (De Cremer et al., 2017, p. 150):
• Information misuse – abusing the data held about the customer
• Privacy issues – collecting health and personal fitness data and selling online
• Switching barriers – making it less attractive or difficult to switch providers
• Favouritism and discrimination – micro-segmentation based on shared customer behaviour
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• Unfairness – discriminating against certain user types, such as higher prices to Mac users
• Dishonesty – cross-selling potentially unwanted or unneeded products based on behaviour
• Financial penalties – only benefiting clients wearing fitness devices and penalis- ing those that won’t
• Confusing customers – only providing complex pricing models
Activity 1.3 Create Your Internet of Things 1. In groups discuss what would help university life within the Internet of Things.
2. Consider what elements could be connected.
3. What benefits could this bring?
4. What concerns do you have about your Internet of Things?
1.6 BIG DATA The Internet of Things groups together big data (see Key Term) from a range of dif- ferent sources. This can be both positive and negative, as we have previously seen.
KEY TERM BIG DATA Originally defined by two NASA researchers, Michael Cox and David Ellsworth, big data referred to large data sets that computers could barely handle (Cox and Ellsworth, 1997).
Some years later, in 2001, Doug Laney published an article about the benefits of central data warehousing due to big data. In the article he coined the concept of the 3V for big data: Volume, Velocity and Variety. This was a great way to describe all aspects of big data as the breadth and depth of data increased (volume), the speed of data (velocity) had increased and different types (variety) of structured and unstructured data appeared (Laney, 2001).
Health insurance companies know your age, job role, where you live, whether you drive far for work, your family composition, typical diet, height, weight, health problems and where you visit on holidays. Some companies are also offering free fitness trackers for cheaper insurance premiums, which allows them to assemble a full profile of your daily life.
Social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google gather big data. They have your personal profile details and can see your buying behaviour. This can be overlaid with additional data from third-party sources. This data is fed back to data specialists where the data is integrated, to better inform market research companies.
Two of the main professional data specialists are:
• CACI, whose database named ‘Ocean’ provides lifestyle and demographic details on 48 million adults in the UK.
• Nielsen, another major data specialist, which has amassed data on consumers in 47 countries.
These companies are invaluable resources when you are a busy marketing manager and want to target the right customers with the right message. As professional organi- sations, they abide by strict rules of conduct. However, there are less scrupulous firms selling data. Within five days of having my academic email address published on the university website, my data had been scraped (see Ethical Insights: Web Scraping) and sold on, which I realised as soon as I started receiving random emails from companies inviting me to attend health and safety conferences.
Ethical Insights Web Scraping Web scraping or harvesting means taking data from websites without the owner’s permission. It works by using web scraping software to visit websites, identify email addresses and add to a local database. The database is typically sold on as ‘new data’ and those making the purchase might think these companies have permission to sell the data!
Whilst web scraping is not technically illegal, using the data may be and often results in getting emails blocked and reported as spam.
The challenge with big data for consumers occurs when a company scrapes their data or uses their in-house data for other purposes, such as selling to third-party ‘partner organisations’ who advertise potentially unwanted products or adopt shady selling techniques.
1.7 PRIVACY AND THE RIGHT TO BE FORGOTTEN There is specialist legislation, which is commonly referred to as ‘the right to be for- gotten’, which enables individuals to remove unnecessary personal data from search engines.
Writing in the Journal of Consumer Affairs, researcher Kucuk Umit noted that collect- ing information that is ‘inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive’ contravenes the individual’s right to be forgotten (Kucuk, 2016, p. 522).
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However, as this is based on European Union legislation (May 2014 Court of Justice ruling) it can only be applied within EU states, which means that the information may remain in other locations, such as the United States. To discover how the pro- cess works, explore the search engines’ request forms for removal of content: Google https://is.gd/righttobe and Bing bing.com/webmaster/tools/eu-privacy-request.
Unsurprisingly, when a challenge occurs, solutions usually follow soon after. One solution, if you are unhappy with your online profile or if the search engines reject your request, is to gain third-party help to remove unwanted content, for a fee (see Digital Tool: Online reputation management).
Digital Tool Online Reputation Management The right to be forgotten has created several new businesses, including online personal reputation management tools such as:
Other legislation across Europe (including the UK) concerning data and privacy is the General Data Protection Regulation, which was introduced in 2018 and has changed how data is managed (see Key Term).
KEY TERM GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION (GDPR) The General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated to GDPR, has introduced major changes in how data is managed. The Regulation means that organisations can only contact consumers if they have explicitly given consent, so if you have allowed a company to contact you about an online sale and they contact you about a totally different subject, the law is being broken. If organisations mis-manage the data and it is accidentally shared, leaked or hacked, the fines have increased dramatically. Maximum fines are 20 million euros or 4% of turnover, whichever is greater. This could result in smaller businesses ceasing to trade if their data is not properly secured and is shared.
You can find out more about the GDPR on these websites:
• DMA https://dma.org.uk/gdpr
• European Commission http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/index_en.htm
1.8 BITCOIN AND BLOCKCHAIN In 2009 a new form of digital currency was introduced to the world, a cryptocur- rency called Bitcoin. Created anonymously, it works on the basis of peer-to-peer financing. There are no banks, no third parties, no bank vaults, no cash machines involved with Bitcoin.
Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet which is kept on your computer or stored in the cloud. You buy or sell Bitcoins on Bitcoin exchanges, such as Coinbase and Gemini Exchange. You can buy Bitcoins in any currency and transaction fees are smaller than standard currency exchange rates, which makes them popular for large overseas payments.
Transactions are recorded online in a transparent register which is called a blockchain and all transactions are checked electronically.
DISCOVER MORE ON BLOCKCHAIN 1. Visit the Blockchain support centre online: https://support.blockchain.com. 2. Read the Harvard Business Review article ‘The truth about blockchain’ (Iansiti and
New Bitcoins are created by mining and an industry of Bitcoin miners has developed. Bitcoin miners de-code online encrypted mathematical challenges using algorithmic processes. In exchange for their work in finding and recording Bitcoins on the block- chain, they are given Bitcoins. Becoming a Bitcoin miner requires hardware in the form of super-fast computing systems as well as software.
There are downsides to Bitcoin as the whole process is anonymous, giving rise to potential for money laundering as well as illegal or terrorist uses, and this has resulted in many mainstream banks refusing to accept Bitcoin or closing accounts trading in the currency.
Other downsides are that there are no guarantees if the coins are lost, and there have been many scams with all aspects of bitcoins, from hacked wallets to software scams.
See ONLINE RESOURCE: Comparison of traditional currency and Bitcoin
Case Example 1.2 The Lost Bitcoins James Howells, a computer engineer, was tidying up his old computers and accidentally threw away a laptop containing 7500 Bitcoins in 2013, which was worth £750,000. Today it is more likely to be around £40 million!
He spilt a drink on the device and decided to leave it for collection and removal to the household waste recycling centre near Newport in Wales, only realising later that the hard drive contained his
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digital wallet (McCormick, 2013). Howells visited the waste recycling centre only to discover that his computer, along with significant amounts of other waste, was buried deep under metres of items, somewhere in a space bigger than the size of a football pitch, and could not be recovered.
This case highlighted one of the vulnerabilities of bitcoins, that if stored on a device, there is no way to retrieve them other than via that device. Since this time many bitcoin owners have backed up their systems, just in case.
Case Questions • Perhaps you don’t own any Bitcoins, but how do you back up your data? • Have you lost data when a Macbook or laptop has failed? If yes, how did you cope with the
data loss? • What might be the impact if your Macbook or laptop failed later today?
Whether Bitcoin has a future as a real alternative to traditional currency is debatable. Payment specialists Consult Hyperion think it is unlikely as people would need to be comfortable sharing all their transactions as well as needing to manage their own Bitcoin security (Consult Hyperion, 2015). The bank BNY Mellon also thinks it is unlikely, especially as countries including Iceland, Vietnam and China have banned the use of Bitcoins (BNY Mellon, 2015).
Whilst Bitcoin is the best known, there are alternatives, such as Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple and many more. What Bitcoin has achieved is awareness of a new disruption digital currency.
1.8.1 BLOCKCHAIN – THE DISTRIBUTED LEDGER One technological innovation generated through the development of Bitcoin was blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT). A blockchain is a distributed database so no one person or organisation stores all the data, it is securely shared over several systems, records all actions and is open for verification (Workie and Jain, 2017).
Blockchain was initially aimed at securely recording all Bitcoin transactions but its usefulness on a wider scale for ‘interorganizational cooperation’ was realised (Gupta, 2017, p. 3). There are experiments taking place at the moment to see how this type of disintermediation (see Key Term) can work. The benefits of the DLT are:
• One single person does not control all the data
• Data sets are portable
• Records are transparent
• Greater data integrity as records cannot be changed later
• More efficient system
There are opportunities to use blockchain technology for:
• Medical records: Every specialist, every appointment, diagnosis, treatment and prescription history could be viewed in one place. The doctor has the key; so too does the patient and can share where needed.
• Education and training data: All results, certificates, accreditations, member- ships and awards are in one place. The individual has the key and can share with potential employers before interviews.