Bringing European values to the Internet of Things
June 2nd, 2010

Full text (pdf) of the speech held by Neelie Kroes, (press releases) European Commissioner for Digital agenda at 2nd Annual Internet of Things Conference Brussels, 1st June 2010.

Our citizens may not always want to use the technology in all the ways that is possible. They will want to retain control over their lives and surroundings. This is why we should place a premium on a thorough and transparent debate. People should not feel that it sneaked up on them, forcing them to live with new and unexpected realities. The sorts of questions we need to be asking are:

– What precautions do you want in place to make sure your medical information can be accessed electronically, but not by the wrong people?
– Would you accept your mobile phone being located and traced in exchange for, say, a weather map?
– Can your car be tagged to improve mobility and traffic safety?

These are not really technical questions. They are values questions. And we will need to use the answers to inform how the Internet of Things develops. We must ensure we have ways to integrate our values into the technical possibilities.

This is a challenge not just for Europe but for the whole world. And it is needless to say that some countries are less motivated by values of openness, transparency and democracy than the Member States of the EU. If Europe takes a lead on this, if we show the value of debating these issues openly, then it is more likely that around the world the Internet of Things will be used to do good things.

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