The Internet of Citizens. A lawyer’s view on some technological developments in the United Kingdom and India

Guido Noto La Diega

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This article is a useful tool for both Asian and European readers as regards some of the state-of-the-art technologies revolving around the Internet of Things (‘IoT’) and their intersection with cloud computing (the Clouds of Things, ‘CoT’) in both the continents. The main legal issues will be presented, with a focus on intellectual property, consumer protection, and privacy. India and the United Kingdom are selected because they are at the forefront of the IoT innovation in their respective countries. The IoT is an expanding and heterogeneous universe encompassing all Things which are capable of connectivity and are equipped with sensing and actuating capabilities. One can find Things in very diverse sectors, from agriculture to manufacturing, retail, healthcare, leisure, domotics, urban development, etc. Therefore, not only is providing an exhaustive and static definition of the IoT nearly impossible (or at least pointless), but also the endeavour of providing a complete picture of the phenomenon would be a cumbersome path towards failure. Consequently, I will give account only of the highlights of the IoT in India and the United Kingdom. In India, the IoT will be analysed through the prism of net neutrality, smart cities, manufacturing, computer-related inventions, and a recent bill on the surveillance aspects of the world’s largest biometric database (Aadhaar). In turn, I will look at the British context by analysing some (quasi) regulatory acts with a focus on privacy and consumer protection. One last caveat. When it comes to new technologies, one tends to be either ‘apocalyptic’ or ‘integrated’. Either the technology will save us all by leveraging a revolution leading to a disruptive innovation, or it will destroy our lives and the world will go to the dogs. I take a middle position and believe that through education, collective awareness, and soft law, one will be able to keep the human being at the centre of innovation, to unite people rather than divide them, to empower them and alleviate discrimination and poverty. What is important is neither should one delegate to technology nor to rely entirely on government: if the IoT is to actually become a revolution, it will do so due to the commitment of each and every one of us who will contribute to create the Internet of Citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-104
JournalIndian Journal of Law & Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


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