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Con — Resolved: On balance, the benefits of the Internet of Things outweigh the harms of decreased personal privacy.

October 20, 2016
Published in Newsletter

Pro Essay  Intro Essay

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The resolution directs the Con to argue the reality of reduced privacy that comes with the IoT outweighs the benefits of the IoT.

This is a tall task.   As noted in the Pro essay, there are many different benefits to the IoT and those benefits have large consequentialist impacts (lives saved, lives improved).   The Con has to argue privacy outweighs. This will be hard, no doubt about it.

To deal with this, I suggest a few approaches.

1 – Make the privacy argument as strong as possible and combine it with defensive arguments against the benefits to the IoT.  The privacy impacts you choose need to not only be about the value of privacy, but also about why privacy comes first  — why it is a deontological, apriori issue.  Our evidence release has a number of privacy impacts and there are a number of general impacts in this file about the why rights and morality impacts should trump consequentialist impacts —

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Prior to tournaments, I think it is important that debaters give practice speeches where they work to articulate this claim.

2 – Link other consequentialist impacts to the privacy violations, particularly internet security.

3 – Argue that other disadvantages to the IoT are relevant to the debate.

4 — Create intersections amongst your arguments

There are two intersections that I think are important to debate.

(a) Privacy and innovation.  There is a long law review article by Julie Cohen that argues that protection of privacy is needed for innovation in all sectors and over the long term.  She even argues that the innovation caused by Big Data will be insignificant compared to the innovation that will result if privacy is protected. I included some of the best evidence from the article, but you may want to read it yourself.

(b) Privacy and use.  Con teams can also argue that privacy violations make people less likely to use the IoT but that is obviously a weaker argument.

(c) Cybersecurity and Pro benefits/scenarios. The “IoT is bad because it undermines cyber security” argument is good (it has strong links) and also because it will appeal to judges — cybersecurity is always in the news and the most recent cyber attack can be blamed on the IoT.  Though some teams will challenge the relevance of the cyber security argument, particularly if you do not tie it directly into privacy, it is useful to make the argument on the Con and then argue that any scenarios the Pro claims (water efficiency, driverless cars, smart cities) increase the risk of cyber attacks.  I’ve included evidence on all of those arguments.

The Privacy Debate

The resolution arguable spots the Con the link to the privacy argument, but many policies and programs (including school searches) violate privacy, so I think it is important that the Con argue how significant of a privacy violation the IoT is.

Geoff Webb is Director of Solution Strategy at NetIQ, February 2015, Wired, Say Goodbye To Privacy, https://www.wired.com/insights/2015/02/say-goodbye-to-privacy/ DOA: 9-26-15

YOU’RE PROBABLY ABOUT to lose something precious. Something you can’t see. Something you can’t touch, taste, or smell and probably don’t think about regularly. And yet when it’s gone, which I believe it will be soon, you may spend the rest of your life longing for it. What you’re about to lose is your privacy. Actually, it’s worse than that. You aren’t just going to lose your privacy, you’re going to have to watch the very concept of privacy be rewritten under your nose. That’s because while the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to add a lot to our lives, it’s probably going to take our privacy in payment, whether you want it to or not. We shouldn’t be surprised that the IoT will change things, nor that the full impact is difficult to predict. Big changes brought on by technology are something we’ve seen plenty of times before. When the steam engine was first introduced in the 1800’s, no one could have foreseen the impact it would have on the way we think about everything from transportation, city design, even need for a standard “time” across the country. [ Also on Insights: Tackling Privacy Concerns Is Key to Expanding the Internet of Things ] Other changes have followed, driven by new technology – the internal combustion engine, flight, the integrated circuit, the Internet. All of these technological changes forced us to redefine how we think about our lives, what technology means to us. Over the years, these changes have created, and killed, entire industries. At each step, the impact of our technology arrived faster, and was more deeply felt. Yet the Internet of Things won’t just change some particular aspects of our lives; it won’t affect say commerce, or industry, or politics. It will affect, shape, even redefine them all. At once. And, if the past is anything to go by, the changes will happen even more quickly than ever before. Why? What makes the IoT so unique in the long history of technological change? 1. It is the aggregation of a large number of already disruptive technologies, and it combines the disruptive elements of those technologies in new ways, magnifying their effects. Smart tech, the Internet, social identity, big data, cloud, mobility, all these are affected by, and contribute to, the emerging IoT. It’s like putting gun powder, dynamite, nitroglycerine, and a bunch of road flares into a box and shaking them up. Something’s going to happen, and happen fast. 2. The IoT is pervasive in a way that nothing else has been, except possibly pottery and agriculture, and those two technologies *defined* human existence. The IoT will be *everywhere* which means that when the changes occur (and they will) those changes will impact everything, and everyone – there’s no ‘offline’ no ‘standby’ for the IoT. No one will be able to escape its impact, because you won’t *use* the IoT, you’ll live inside it – all day, every day. 3. As a society we’re addicted to tech in a way that no generation ever has been before and we already have the mindset – the Pavlovian response – to readily embrace this next generation of technology that IoT represents in an unquestioning manner. We rely on it for everything and we’ve been trained to expect technology to answer our every need, because no matter what the question – there’s an app for that. Yet, the most profound effect of all the ways in which the IoT changes our lives is that it will blur, to the point of invisibility, the concept of privacy. When we live in a world in which there are countless sensors and smart objects around us, all the time; when the clothes we wear, even things inside our bodies, are smart and connected, then the concept of “private” becomes far more ephemeral. What’s private? From whom? When? As more and more information is gathered about us, constantly, so the concept of being offline, of being unavailable, or simply being alone, will recede. And as it goes, so will our control over the information gathered about us. Big data, especially, is going to make it hard to keep anything private – as more and more things gather increasing contextual information about our behavior, so the capability to analyze and predict, to seek out the identity of the people behind every action, will open very public windows into all our lives. We may well be living in the last era of privacy – and standing on the brink of a post-privacy society. It’s not easy to imagine what that will be like. Perhaps in the end it will force us to face the deeper truths about human nature, that we are all much the same. Perhaps it will be an Orwellian nightmare in which governments spy on us constantly. Most probably, it will be a little of both. The good news, however, is that we almost certainly won’t have to wait long to find out.

It literally means IoT means the END of privacy

Andre Back, June 18, 2012, An Open Internet of Things, http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/blog/an-open-internet-of-things DOA: 9-26-15

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to herald an age in which physical objects create and consume data without human intervention, and this will have an enormous impact on our everyday lives. In recognising this and in a bid to establish the foundations of a privacy-sensitive Open Internet of Things, an assembly of practitioners gathered together in London over the weekend of 16/17th June 2012 to draft a definition of what one might look like. Both days of the Open IoT Assembly started off with a series of presentations that provided context, framing and inspiration. A great deal of information was conveyed and some complex, and at times profound, issues were covered. What follows is an attempt at capturing just a few of the key messages from each presentation — there are omissions and there may well be errors. Channelling Lawrence Lessig, Adam suggested that increasingly code is law, and yet software code can be updated without constitutional change. An example was given in the form of a civic CCTV system which may be installed for simple monitoring purposes, and then later upgraded in order that it can be used to track people through facial recognition. And we were urged to think about the implications of when there is power, e.g. legal or political, in a technology system. In drawing his presentation to a close Adam ended on a positive note and outlined a vision for the IoT — this mode of ubiquitous computing — in which it serves to reduce the isolation brought about by sitting in front of a computer. Rob took us on a breakneck speed tour of his expansive vision for the IoT, where efficiencies would be removed from systems, corruption would be laid bare and… there would be an end to privacy! He noted that data ecologies were already developing and the question now was whether these are open or closed, and proposed that there should be a public open data backbone. He told in brief how he has been working with the Dutch government to explore how individuals empowered by the IoT could compete with mission critical public services, and noted that China is run by engineers and therefore posesses an “IoT mindset”. In closing Rob issued a call to “occupy the [IoT] gateways!” with open source software and hardware. [Adam Greenfield, Founder and Managing Director, Urbanscale] [Rob van Kranenburg, European Comission IoT Expert Group]

Even those who set their devices to “private” will have data collected by government and big data companies

Janna Anderson and Lee Raine, 2014, The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025, http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/internet-of-things/   Pew Research Center DOA: 9-28-16

William Schrader, co-founder and CEO of PSINet, the first commercial ISP, said, “For the hundreds of millions of individuals willing to share their interests, locations, and network of friends with everyone watching, including governments and Big Data, the wearable and scannable devices will be easily adopted. For those less willing to share, they will not be used except in the ‘private setting,’ if one exists. And, everyone will know that even information collected under ‘private’ settings will be delivered to governments and Big Data… Some devices, such as a galvanic skin response (GSR) monitor, intended to aid the wearer in telling him when he is nervous, can also be remotely monitored by Big Data (read: governments) in real time to detect lying. Intrusion by anyone wishing to harm another person will be much easier when self-monitoring devices are worn routinely, which are also broadcast to the wearer’s smart phone, which can be remotely monitored by others in real-time. In short, if people fear nothing and trust everyone, they will wear these devices easily. For those who are vigilant in protecting their privacy, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to sell a device to them… The pros and cons of advanced devices arealways intrusive. The proof will be when the military requires them to be worn at all times by soldiers; that alone will be convincing that they tell more than the wearer wants to be telling.”

It’s way more significant of a privacy violation than Facebook, for example

Perera, et al, 2014, Privacy of Big Data in the Internet of Things Era, Charith Perera (Australian National University), Rajiv Ranjan (CSIRO Digital Productivity Flagship), Lizhe Wang (Chinese Academy of Sciences), Samee U. Khan (North Dakota State University), and Albert Y. Zomaya (University of Sydney)

Golbeck and Mauriello [9] have shown that the average Facebook users significantly underestimate the amount of data they that they give access to third party applications. Moreover, they also noted that most of us tend to overlook the privacy [8] terms and policies on the Web. In the IoT era, the amount of user data that can be collected can be significantly higher. For example, recent wearable technologies, such as Google Glass, Apple iWatch, Google Fit, Apple Health Kit, and Apple Home Kit may collect very sensitive information about users, ranging from their health conditions to financial status by observing/recording daily activities. It is noteworthy to mention that to succeed in the IoT marketplace, product and service providers need to gain the consumer confidence.

Beyond identifying the magnitude of the link, Con teams need to articulate why privacy is super important.

Allen, 2011  Anita. J.D., Ph.D, Henry R Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania School of Law. Unpopular privacy: what must we hide?. Oxford University Press, 2011. Pp 172-3

Since the 1970s, when scholars first began to analyze privacy in earnest, philosophers have linked the experience of privacy with dignity, autonomy, civility, and intimacy. They linked it also to repose, self-expression, creativity, and reflection. They tied it to the preservation of unique preferences and distinct traditions. Privacy is a foundational good. The argument that privacy is a right whose normative basis is respect for persons opens the door to the further argument that privacy is also potentially a duty. “To respect someone as a person is to concede that one ought to take account of the way in which his enterprise might be affected by one’s decision,” S. I. Benn wrote.3S And to respect oneself may require taking into account the way in which one; personality and life enterprises could be affected by decisions to dispense with foundational goods that are lost when one decides to flaunt, expose, and share rather than to reserve, conceal, and keep. The idea that the experience of privacy is ethically mandatory is logically consistent with leading normative accounts. It is consistent with Robert Post’s (citing Erving Goffman and Jeffrey Reiman) “characterization of respecting privacy as respecting civility norms” of deference and demeanor. 39 It is likewise consistent with Helen Nissenbaum’s analysis of privacy. She defines privacy and its value in relation to norms of the appropriateness of specific behaviors and the distribution of certain information in social and cultural context.40 If people are completely morally and legally free to pick and choose the privacy they will experience, such as deferential civility, appropriateness and limited data flow, they are potentially deprived of highly valued states that promote their vital interests, and those of fellow human beings with whom they associate. We need to restrain choice—if not by law, then somehow. Respect for privacy rights and the ascription of privacy duties must both be a part of a society’s formative project for shaping citizens. Lior Jacob Strahilevitz has argued that privacy violations can be understood as rechanneling information flow, so that information unknown or obscure in a network becomes known: “Where a defendant’s (in a suit alleging informational privacy invasion disclosure materially alters the flow of otherwise obscure information through a social net- work, such that what would have otherwise remained obscure becomes widely known, the defendant should be liable for public disclosure of private facts.”41 Viewed in this way, it may not seem to matter that privacy is invaded unless the person whose information flows out against his will cares. We have to go back to dignitarian ideals about privacy to see why we, as liberals, should care about optional dismissals of privacy. Jeffrey Reiman defined privacy as the “social rituals” that serve to teach us that we are distinct moral persons and autonomous moral agents.42 Liberals agree that there is something wrong with being watched and investigated all the time. As legal theorist Daniel Solove argues, surveillance can make “a person feel extremely uncomfortable” and can lead to “self-censorship and inhibition.”43 Surveillance is a form of social control. As such, it impacts freedom. I have been urging that dispensing with one’s privacy is yielding to social control, and that that impacts freedom, too. Realizing this, the notion that some privacy should not be optional, waivable, or alienable should have instant credibility.

As noted in the Pro essay, it is important that they do not make arguments about privacy rights because this isn’t a question of rights – rights are what you have against the government and in most instances when people take advantage of the IoT they will voluntarily give up privacy.

There are many more privacy impacts in our original evidence file.

Con debaters should also read tyranny/democratic collapse impacts to the collection of this information

Janna Anderson and Lee Raine, 2014, The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025, http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/internet-of-things/   Pew Research Center DOA: 9-28-16

Some participants expressed concern over the acceleration of already-worrying trends. A professor specializing in surveillance wrote, “These technologies already mess up everyday life and tamper with social relations—why not in 2025, when there is no sign yet that the ideology in place now will be altered? The Internet will be even more driven by consumption and standardisation—to control commerce and people.” A social science research supervisor warned, “The capacity to have every movement tracked forges ahead into an almost Orwellian atmosphere: destructive.” A retired defense systems executive observed, “In the social environment, there will be nowhere to hide.” An anonymous respondent wrote, “The continued evolution of this area just increases Big Brother.”

Given that some judges may think (and reasonably so) that the Con’s offensive arguments are limited to privacy [Casper Aberneey makes a strong case for this in his video topic overview], it is essential that Con teams learn how to develop this argument and participate in practice speeches where they articulate the impact of privacy and why it outweighs other benefits.

Con teams also need to work to identify consequentialist impacts to privacy, such as cyber security. While some Pro teams will argue that general arguments about cyber security are not relevant to the resolution (that the Con only gets to argue about privacy) , Con teams can link the cyber security arguments in by arguing that a loss of privacy makes cyber security threats more likely.

First, Hackers can directly exploit the information collected –

Adrian McWewen & Hakim Casimally, 2014, Designing the Internet of Things, http://madsg.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Designing_the_Internet_of_Things.pdf Adrian McEwen is a creative technologist and entrepreneur based in Liverpool. He has been connecting devices to the Internet since 1995—first cash registers, then mobile phones, and now bubble machines and lamps. He founded MCQN Ltd., an Internet of Things product agency and (along with Hakim and others) is co-founder of DoES Liverpool, a hybrid co-working/ makerspace that incubates Internet of Things startups in NW England. He is also CTO of Good Night Lamp, a family of Internet-connected lamps. He was one of the first employees at STNC Ltd, which built the first web browser for mobile phones and was acquired by Microsoft in 1999. Adrian concentrates on how the Internet of Things intersects with people’s lives and how heterogeneous networks of devices should work together, and lectures and speaks on these issues internationally. Despite an education in Italian and English literature, once Hakim Cassimally discovered software development, he hasn’t looked back. He is a staunch proponent of Perl and was one of the organisers of YAPC::EU 2010 in Pisa. These days, however, he is likely to be writing Python for 3D printers or for civic hacking projects with mySociety.org. He co-founded (with Adrian and others) DoES Liverpool

We’ve looked at a number of examples of the Internet of Things, so what is the common thread that binds them together? And why the name? All the cases we saw used the Internet to send, receive, or communicate information. And in each case, the gadget that was connected to the Internet wasn’t a computer, tablet, or mobile phone but an object, a Thing. These Things are designed for a purpose: the umbrella has a retractable canopy and a handle to hold it. A bus display has to be readable to public transport users, including the elderly and partially sighted and be able to survive poor weather conditions and the risk of vandalism. The sports bracelet is easy to wear while running, has a display that is large enough and bright enough to read even when you are moving, and will survive heat, cold, sweat, and rain. Even if these devices are themselves respectful of your privacy, their security or lack thereof might allow an attacker to get information. For example, if it were possible to read an IP packet going from the goodnightlamp.com servers to a household, could you find out that the associated “big lamp” had been switched off? Even if this packet is encrypted, could an attacker infer something by the fact that a packet was sent at all? (That is, will the servers have to regularly send encrypted “nothing happened” packets?) These risks are to be considered very carefully by responsible makers of Internet of Things devices! We would refer the reader back to Chapters 7 and 10, where we discuss the technical details of how to approach securing the online component of your product.

This enables them to directly cause harm –

Chris Clearfield is a principal at System Logic, an independent consulting firm that helps organizations manage issues of risk and complexity, September 18, 2013, Forbes, Why the FTC Can’t Regulate the Internet of Things, http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrisclearfield/2013/09/18/why-the-ftc-cant-regulate-the-internet-of-things/#773db45c53ae DOA: 9-215-16

While privacy violations cannot be brushed aside, cameras can only observe (and occasionally broadcast audio). Compared with connected housescars,electronic locks (where flaws in one such design have been used to burglarize hotel rooms), and wireless medical equipment, an insecure camera’s effect on users is limited. Rather, the ability to hack cars and open doors directly affects users’ physical safety. As more devices become connected, they will provide an increasing set of features (like integration with Facebook, social media accounts, and apps), creating a larger and increasingly vulnerable attack surface for hackers to exploit. The ongoing integration of connected devices into our lives and the security challenge inherent in these devices pose threats that should temper the excitement of Internet of Things evangelists. To make matters worse, even though the FTC recognizes the problem, it can do little to protect consumers as the Internet of Things grows.

Second, traditional criminals can take advantage of the information

Perera, et al, 2014, Privacy of Big Data in the Internet of Things Era, Charith Perera (Australian National University), Rajiv Ranjan (CSIRO Digital Productivity Flagship), Lizhe Wang (Chinese Academy of Sciences), Samee U. Khan (North Dakota State University), and Albert Y. Zomaya (University of Sydney)

The consequences of releasing or selling private data of users could result in users’ receiving annoying customized target advertising. In more extreme circumstances, criminals may use such data to perform different types of criminal activities that could harm individual consumers (e.g. identifying user behavioural patterns to invade houses) or entire communities (e.g. identifying critical timeframes to destruct water supply or energy distribution channels).

And, in addition to arguing that privacy violations make cyber security threats more likely, Con teams can argue that cyber security problems created by the IoT threaten privacy.  For example, a lack of cyber security contributed to wikileaks disclosure, threatening the privacy of those who had the information disclosed.

Other disadvantages

There are a number of other disadvantages to the IoT that I will list here. I would go into these in more detail but the Con will need to work to establish the relevance of these since the resolution only explicitly provides the privacy ground for the Con.

I do think there are a couple of arguments the Con can make to tie in the relevance o f disadvantages to the resolution.

One, the Con can argue that since the resolution says, “on balance” that the Con should get to weigh the total Pros and Cons of the IoT against the privacy harms. So, if the benefit of the IoT are net negative or even total zero, they cannot outweigh the privacy harms.

Two, the Con can easily introduce these arguments as impact turns.  For example, if the Pro argues the IoT reduces climate change by reducing fossil fuel consumption, the Con can directly respond in rebuttal by arguing global warming is good because it will prevent an ice age.  Some argue that the Pro will not be able to claim these as add-on benefits, but that that they will function as at least “terminal defense” to the advantages.

Three, as mentioned, the Con can try to connect the privacy impacts to the subsequent impacts. For example, you can argue that a lack of privacy will cause the other impacts. For example, as discussed above, it will make the Internet less secure.

Four, I think that as long as you can establish some rationale relevance of the arguments related to the other harms of the IoT that at least non-law judges will be receptive to you including them because that know that it will otherwise be very difficult (if not impossible) to debate on the Con.

These are some of the impacts I found. More are available in the release.

– Growing rich-poor gap between those with wearables and those without snowballs and makes some less than fully human

Janna Anderson and Lee Raine, 2014, The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025, http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/internet-of-things/   Pew Research Center DOA: 9-28-16

K.G. Schneider, a university librarian, wrote, “Right now, Google Glass follows the pattern of other technology adoptions, where what I see are a handful of first-world white men touting their shiny new toys. Put this in context with someone struggling to get by on a daily basis—in the US or in other countries: what these devices primarily signify is a growing gulf between the tech haves and have-nots. That said, I’m not boycotting these devices—I see them as interesting and important. But just as students today are burdened if they don’t have home Internet—and at the university where I work, that is true of some of our commuter students, much as people might find that hard to believe—there will be an expectation that successful living as a human will require being equipped with pricey accoutrements… Reflecting on this makes me concerned that as the digital divide widens, people left behind will be increasingly invisible and increasingly seen as less than full humans.”

– IoT threatens human survival

Janna Anderson and Lee Raine, 2014, The Internet of Things Will Thrive by 2025, http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/05/14/internet-of-things/   Pew Research Center DOA: 9-28-16

Mark Lockwood, a researcher, wrote, “There are clearly major ethical considerations that need to be addressed … The Internet of Things could be a major threat to society as we know it and, possibly, to our continued existence as a species on this planet. As it stands now, our laws and policies are not advancing as quickly as technology develops. This leaves us vulnerable at the macro and micro level. One concern is the question of who will be controlling the Internet of Things. This could be an incredible, powerful tool for controlling populations. With the current blurred lines between governments and corporations, the Internet of Things could result in a global ‘cult of personality-’type government, as exists in North Korea.” A professor of telecommunications at Pennsylvania State University wrote, “What about widespread and detrimental effects? … Wearable, connected visual devices—ie, Google Glass or some contact lens version thereof—will be the gateway to integrating the real and virtual worlds, backed up by AI…This raises all kinds of safety and social issues that will need to be addressed.” A long-time scholar and activist focused on the commons said, “The unilateral introduction of smart sensors and wearable devices—usually to advance some company’s business strategy, not necessarily to advance a collective good—will provoke social disruptions and disorientation, and perhaps, backlashes … Conventional policy structures are ill equipped to deal with this trend, and disaggregated individuals are similarly powerless. While there are indeed useful purposes that could be served by these various technologies and the Internet of Things, most are being proposed in gee-whiz, socially naive ways and without serious concern for the long-term social implications or for social consent. Where is the US Office of Technology Assessment when we really need it? Who can host a more intelligent, or even dissenting, dialogue on this issue? Should these technologies be presumptively deployed just because they offer some focused, new benefit, and some company can make money from them?” A developer of technological systems that assist the development of the whole human wrote, “Will there be AI systems that question our understanding of ideas?”

Defensive Arguments

Con teams will need both general defensive arguments as well as arguments that are specific to each of the scenarios/benefits the Pro will read.

As I noted in the other essays, being prepared for all of the individual areas will be difficult, but there are a number of general categories of benefits/advantage areas that teams can be prepared for.  If they are prepared for these, they will likely be able to apply general answers to the scenarios. And we do have answers to just about everything in our impact defense file.

Popular advantage areas

Climate change

Oil dependence bad/energy efficiency

General environment

General health/disease

General economy/manufacturing/competitiveness

For a comprehensive list, see our Argument Map.

We will keep you updated throughout the month!

Beyond answering these specific claims, I think Con teams need to have a general frontline that they can use against any specific benefit/advantage/scenario.   Here are some arguments

  1.  The benefits of the IoT are theoretical, but the IoT will certainly collect a lot of data in a way that violates privacy.  This means the privacy harm is true/empirical whereas the advantages are just theoretical.  There is evidence in this, “Answers to Internet Freedom” file that explains how governments take advantage of all of the information collected by these devices to crush freedom.

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