The benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) are immense as far as the simplification of life aspects is concerned. The technology has, in developed parts of the world, permeated day to day activities, an activity that has raised concerns for regulatory bodies and experts. To address such concerns, stakeholders have championed proper, organized regulations for the sale and use of IoT.
More specifically, and closer home, locals will be able to buy IoT devices, including household appliances that are connected to the internet in coming days. This development is preceded by a set of government-backed guidelines that stipulate the introduction and sale of such products to Kenyans.
It is highly likely most of us have interacted with IoT devices. Smart home devices, such as smart speakers like the Google Home or Amazon Echo (that you can easily import or buy via third-party retailers) are common pieces of IoT tech. Your smartwatch is another example of IoT and many more examples.
As mentioned, these are devices that anybody can buy without any legislation obstacle. As such, ease of accessing IoT devices and lack of laws that govern their distribution has necessitated Kenya’s Communications Authority (CA) to release the said guidelines.
Companies such as LG, among others, have been selling home appliances like their smart refrigerators that can be connected to the Internet.
The CA says that such devices must be approved before they can be sold to consumers. The approval process is typically done for devices that are equipped with embedded universal integrated circuit cards (eUICC) as outlined in the Kenya Information and Communications regulations.
In addition, distributors must ensure that their devices comply with international standards as set by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).
It makes sense connected devices must be scrutinized by the authorities before distribution. For instance, data privacy is a major issue as some manufacturers of smart TVs have been caught collecting data about their consumers to analyze their viewing habits. Thus, data collected by the devices may have a challenge for data privacy during transmission.
Secondly, data security is a challenge. During transmission, it is important to hide from observing devices in the web.
There is also the issue of lack of common standards because it can be challenging for the CA to distinguish between permitted and non-permitted connected devices. Security attacks and system vulnerabilities must also be looked into via proper security guidelines to maintain the security of networks.