Dr Subhajit Basu submits evidence to UK Parliamentary committee on smart technology and safety

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is examining the impacts of the increasing prevalence of smart and connected technology.

The School of Law’s Associate Professor in Information Technology Law Dr Subhajit Basu has submitted written evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee.  

The DCMS Committee is examining the impacts of the increasing prevalence of smart and connected technology and what needs to be done to ensure it is safe and secure for its users. 

The Connected tech: smart or sinister? inquiry will explore how devices including smart speakers, virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri and wearable tech such as Fitbits, are reshaping life in homes and workplaces and across towns and cities. 

Dr Basu told us, “'My core argument is that the advancement of Smart and connected technologies is heavily based on advances in machine learning and enhanced data analytics capability, which significantly affects our privacy. The most exciting, disrupting and portend aspect of the smart world is a future full of personal data.

“Smart applications can independently create potentially personal data. Even more alarming is the prospect that these technologies have converted everyday devices into personal data because of their ability to reveal information about our daily activities.

There are two significant problems here: any data, however remote, can be linked to a person and with a high degree of precision. It also means any data can be interpreted as personal data.  

“Second, if we accept the benefits of a smart system's autonomy, we must accept the consequences of independence and unpredictability that comes with such autonomy.  

“The choice is between submitting to automation or refusing to make a decision. Apart from practical problems, the proliferation of personal data could undermine data protection regimes by calling into question the value that personal data protects.

“This technology is influencing privacy not just by changing the accessibility of information but also by changing the privacy norms themselves. However, the attribution problems and their implications for accountability and responsibility are even more complex.”

Read the full evidence submitted by Dr Basu.