Do you Believe your IoT Devices?

By Gary Audin October 12, 2020

What about the accuracy IoT devices? I’ve read a lot about IoT but I have read little that covers the accuracy of the endpoints. A Google search produced only 300 hits most of which do not directly address IoT accuracy. What if someone else is making decisions assuming their accuracy?

The analytics results will look good but the raw data will be questionable. If erroneous decisions were being made about my health or my safety or my legal actions, what can I do to correct it? I cannot confront a person or the original data or the analysis process. I cannot confront the IoT endpoint. Who has the liability for the errors, the endpoint producer, endpoint implementer, the data analytics system, or IT staff? See “The Gotchas: IoT Liabilities.” 

The Internet of Things Summit
I attended the Fourth Annual Internet of Things Global Summit in Washington, D.C. The last session was titled “Privacy – how best to move forward.” The panel invited questions at the end of their presentations. I posed the question of IoT measurement accuracy. Michelle De Mooy, Acting Director for Privacy and Data Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology responded to my question about accuracy. She stated that when she was performing her studies of IoT devices like wearables, accuracy was not part of the study even though she thought accuracy is extremely important. 

The Rossen Report
What prompted the question was a video I saw on NBC as part of the Rossen Reports. Its title was “Fitness trackers: Do they count steps, calories accurately?” Jeff Rossen compared two phone applications and three wearable wrist devices. He compared them to each other and then compared them to tests in the laboratory. The disparities in measuring steps especially about calories burned proved inaccurate. What if your doctor is using this information for your treatment or to determine premiums for your life insurance or health insurance? The accuracy of information of the phone applications and wearables devices is questionable.

According to the Rossen report: The companies told NBC News that the trackers are designed to motivate and encourage healthy lifestyles. Garmin added that "the position on the wrist" mattered "if multiple devices were worn at the same time" and that it also mattered whether the device was worn on your "dominant hand."

The Interview Chair
Let’s apply these measurement devices to a chair that I sit in when I’m interviewing for a job. I may not know such devices are measuring my body at the time of the interview. If I’m stressed from some other situation or expect to be stressed after the interview, my health measurements may be mileading. Some might want to read the data as part of a lie detector. If the interviewer analyzes the data produced by the chair, he or she may infer certain conditions about me that are inaccurate. Some may turn me down for the job. Would this be discrimination based on data which cannot be proved to be accurate or even reproducible? Do I have any recourse?

What about vehicles and appliances?
What about the sensors in a vehicle measuring my driving? Do know that the air pressure in your tires when increased or decreased does not produce the accurate speed of your vehicle. Could this then be used to determine my fitness as a driver?

What if my stove at home is being measured from some remote location? Assume that for some reason my heating system is not working properly and I use the stove and oven as a means to heat my home. The use of the stove and oven in this way is not normal. What I have to do this several days in a row. Will the measuring organization see this is abnormal behavior? What will be their interpretation?
Do I produce auto parts?

I am a one-man company. I was curious and looked up the descriptions of my company online. My company is Delphi, Inc. There is a Delphi Corporation that builds auto parts. It has 10,000 employees. The information I found on line stated that I was the president of the corporation. Wholly inaccurate. This explains why sometimes I get interesting calls or emails from people trying to sell me something or have me invest in some financial instruments. I never gave the information to the site. They incorrectly collected the wrong data and mashed it together to create a profile that is inaccurate.

I worry about the protections for my privacy
My biggest concern about IoT is that once the data is measured, the collector, distributor, the processor, or analyzer will probably assume that is correct. What if it’s not? How can I fix this? It reminds me of incorrect data on a credit report. What could happen is the same as the Wells Fargo customers who had their financial records modified and now have poor credit ratings. The customers need to spend time and money trying to correct their credit report. 

I would like people to understand is that you cannot assume the IoT endpoints will be right all the time. They can break. They can be modified by temperature, humidity, location, age, and other factors. I think the discussion of IoT accuracy should be raised because we need to create policies and regulations to deal with this and provide correction mechanisms. I’m afraid that many people will be making decisions on analyzed data and but the fundamental data may inaccurate.

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