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Internet of Things (IoT) 23 May 2018

Canadian Youth Advocates Participate in Enhancing IoT Project

Katie Jordan
By Katie JordanFormer Director, Public Policy and Technology

On May 14, a group of young people who are currently working on or are studying tech, politics, computer science, and the Internet of Things (IoT) met for a two-hour Youth Advocates for IoT Security round table. This event was a part of the Internet Society’s year-long initiative, the Canadian Multistakeholder Process – Enhancing IoT Security in partnership with Innovation, Science and Economic Development, the Canadian Internet Registration AuthorityCANARIE, and CIPPIC. It serves as just one of several workshops that will be held during the process to develop recommendations for a set of norms and policies to secure the IoT in Canada.

The round table offered an opportunity for young people in school or their early careers to voice their opinions and provide unique inputs for consideration on the following aspects of IoT security:

  • How young people currently use IoT devices;
  • How they anticipate these devices will be used in the future; and
  • Effective ways of educating young consumers about IoT security.

The group discussed the ways in which IoT devices have become seemingly ubiquitous in youth’s lives. IoT devices have also become integral, and often required, parts of classroom learning and workplaces. Now, the lines between devices have begun to blur as they increasingly interconnect. For example, laptops now connect with smart phones, which connect with smart watches and other wearables. In general, youths are worried about the scale and application of these devices, the loss of their privacy, and the increasing prevalence of undisclosed device interactions, such as in smart cities.

Looking forward, youths believe that applications of IoT devices will continue to rapidly expand. In order to ensure that young people are able to safely use these new technologies, the youth group believes the best way to address the risks the IoT poses is through education. This is in keeping with the findings of the multistakeholder group, which also encouraged consumer empowerment through education.

Young people are both current users of the IoT and its future creators and developers. As discussed at the multistakeholder meeting, security should be included in the initial design stages of IoT device creation, so young people should be taught from an early age to consider its importance and their own role in securing IoT.

To accomplish this, the youth group suggested creating targeted learning programs for young people in elementary school, middle/high school, university, and their early careers. In the short term, the group would like to work with an established educational platform, such as Pearson or Khan Academy, to create a digital citizenship and security training course. In the long term, the group hopes this course would become an accredited class that could be offered online or in schools across Canada as a part of the yearly curriculum.

For young people in universities or their early careers, the youth group would like to create a similar course that could be offered online as a certification program. Young people could include this certification on job applications and business profiles to show that they are IoT secure and thus will not pose a threat to their employers’ networks with insecure IoT practices. To raise awareness about this course, the group suggested recruiting or hiring social media influencers, including YouTube unboxers and celebrities.

The group concluded with consensus that to accomplish any of these goals, it will be critical to work in a multistakeholder fashion, including youths, IoT network engineers and device creators, government representatives, teachers, and others as equal and valued stakeholder groups.

Moving forward, the youth group will join the pre-existing multistakeholder listservs to continue collaborating. We will include their input from the round table and the listservs in the Canadian Multistakeholder Process – Enhancing IoT Security final report. We look forward to continuing to engage with this group of motivated young people to ensure that youths are considered in any policy recommendations for securing IoT.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could trust that your device is secure, isn’t leaking your private data, becoming a bot and attacking other users, or putting you at risk? Read and share IoT Security for Policymakers to learn about the challenges we face and how governments, policymakers, and regulators can make a difference.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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