Consumer challenges for the Internet of Things and associated technologies

A ‘third wave’ of computing is emerging, encompassing technologies that have been called many names, including ubiquitous and pervasive computing, ambient intelligence, the Internet of Things and eObjects. This third wave will bring about significant socio-technical change, especially in the lives of consumers. With this change comes the possibility of a disconnection between consumer protection law and the new things, activities and relationships enabled by the third wave. The article linked below analyses the attributes of these technologies, and identifies where consumers may face challenges relating to acquisition and interaction. These challenges are appraised in the light of common consumer protection principles, to identify whether likely detrimental outcomes for consumers may conflict with these principles. This article provides a basis for consumer protection lawyers globally to examine whether or not their current consumer protection legislation can adequately provide appropriate consumer protection in the face of the third wave.

Emerging information technologies – challenges for consumers

This is the accepted (but not proofed) version of an article to be published by Taylor & Francis in the Oxford University Commonwealth Law Journal 2017.

Kickstarting reconnection: An Approach to Legal Problems Arising from Emerging Technologies

A new model, or ‘third wave’, of computing is emerging, based on the widespread use of processors with data handling and communications capabilities embedded in a variety of objects and environments that were not previously computerised. Various terms have been used to describe this third wave, including ‘ubiquitous’ and ‘pervasive’ computing, ‘ambient intelligence’, the ‘Internet of Things’ and ‘eObjects’. With the socio-technical change brought about by this third wave comes the possibility of a disconnection between the law and the new things, activities, and relationships enabled by this new model of computing. This disconnection may lead to legal problems of uncertainty, under- or over-inclusiveness of conduct in existing law, obsolescence, or the complete absence of laws regulating new behaviour. Early and rigorous identification and categorisation of legal problems is crucial for emerging technologies, to assist in avoiding two problems: the first being the stifling of beneficial innovation by over-regulation, the second the cementing of socially undesirable outcomes when vested interests are left too long unchecked. Although the technologies in the third wave are diverse, common attributes can be identified, and from examination of these attributes significant innovations are revealed. This paper examines these innovations to assist in identifying legal problems arising from the third wave.
While privacy and data protection issues have unsurprisingly dominated the scholarly and popular literature on the third wave, this article shows that legal problems extend well beyond these concerns. It uncovers a diversity of legal problems in areas including product liability, anti-hacking legislation, consumer protection, contract, and intellectual property. It does not attempt to uncover all legal problems that might arise, but instead provides a roadmap to further research in this area.

Kickstarting reconnection: an approach to legal problems arising from emerging technologies

This is the accepted (but not proofed) version of an article to be published in the Deakin Law Review in 2017.

Surfing the third wave of computing: A framework for research into eObjects

During the last two decades, a “third wave of computing” has emerged: a move from a model of accessing the Internet and other internetworks almost exclusively via a desktop computer to alternative forms of distributed information technologies, such as smartphones, wearable computers, and sensors and microprocessors embedded in everyday objects. This paper undertakes a critical review of the literature that offers and discusses definitions of this “third wave”. Not surprisingly in an area of innovation, definitions are evolving, overlapping and inconsistent. This paper analyses and consolidates the literature in order to identify the key aspects of this new phenomenon. We have coined the term “eObjects” for the central element of the “third wave”. The paper presents a framework for legal, business and social research into the technologies and their implications, distinguishing core from common attributes, and identifying categories of inter-device interaction.

Surfing the Third Wave of Computing: A Framework for Research into eObjects

This article was published in Computer Law and Security Review in 2015.