Smart home systems must have legal safeguards in place to ensure that data generated and transmitted does not threaten the safety and privacy of individuals, says law firm Werksmans Attorneys director and Data Privacy Practice Group head Ahmore Burger-Smidt.
"Privacy is an articulated concept, which entails different dimensions and values. As such, we know that privacy violations involve a variety of types of harmful activities. Disclosure of smart home information can threaten people’s security. In the smart home context, information dissemination may imply a loss of security," she explains.
A smart home is a system of interconnected household devices capable of communicating with each other through the Internet and collecting information by monitoring the behaviour of the home occupants in order to adapt the home environment to them.
"In the moment of data collection, the most relevant threats are related to the constant monitoring of behaviour. The reality is that a smart home allows a pervasive form of surveillance."
Section 19 of the Protection of Personal Information Act provides that all records and data shall be obtained, transmitted and stored in such a way that they cannot be altered, extracted or destroyed by unauthorised persons and that the integrity and confidentiality of personal information shall be protected, she points out.
"This provision essentially obliged whomever controls the personal information beaming from your smart home, to ensure the security of the data being processed through appropriate technical and organisational measures," says Burger-Smidt.
Smart homes are possible thanks to the digital economy. But in order to enable a secure smart home, it is important to have in place the necessary legal safeguards to be able to efficiently cope with privacy threats, she concludes.