The Internet of Things (IoT) has drastically changed how we operate at work, on the road, and in our homes. Each year the number of connected devices and users increases dramatically. In 2019 Forbes estimated that two-thirds of the entire world population has home devices connected to the Internet of Things.
There are very few, if any, industries that the IoT has not impacted. Technology is simply too widespread to escape its influence. This being said, not all industries are affected by the IoT the same. When considering the effects, the IoT has on business most people think about health care, manufacturing, and consumer electronics. There is no doubt these fields have been heavily impacted by the advancement of IoT technology but not many consider the effect it has had on Lawyers and Law firms. Here we will look at three areas in which IoT is impacting lawyers. We will begin by developing a clearer understanding of what the internet of things is.
What is IoT: “The internet of things expands our classic understanding of connectivity to new, often household devices, such as clocks, TVs, Fridges and more,” says Sharon K. Henderson a tech blogger at Ukwritings and Australianhelp. This is in essence what IoT is. Devices that were not conventionally connected to a network being connected to a large global network that allows them to send and receive data.
Next, we will consider three ways in which the IoT has impacted lawyers and the field of law.
Changes To eDiscovery: In litigation law, Discovery is a pretrial process where one party can obtain evidence, in the form of documentation, interrogation reports, dispositions, etc., from the other party or parties. In simple terms, it is an exchange of case-relevant information between the plaintiff and the defendant. Electronic Discovery (eDiscovery) is the same idea but the information is in electronic format.
Until very recently most discoverable information came in two forms: Documentation and Personal Testimony. With the advent of IoT, the amount of case-relevant information has increased immensely. The issue for lawyers is there is no standard protocol or regulations in place, yet which govern the gathering and use of this information. For example, say an individual is being accused of a crime and provides an alibi. In the past, his alibi would have to be verified in some way, usually by a witness who saw them. With the IoT, an individual phone can be tied to specific routers in specific locations.
Another issue that is of great concern is the proper treatment of electronic data. Destruction of physical evidence is known by most people to be a crime. There are clearly defined regulations and laws on what constitutes the destruction of evidence, proper storage of evidence, as well as correct chain of custody of evidence. The same can not be said of electronic evidence. It is not always clear when the destruction of electronic evidence is a crime or not.
These issues, all related to eDiscovery, need to be resolved before lawyers get too far behind the unstoppable advancement of technology.
Misappropriation of Personal Information: It has always been the case that new technology creates new or updated laws, thus expanding the field of law. The IoT has done just that.
“While the IoT has made everyday living more convenient and comfortable, the high amount of personal data is still stored somewhere,” says Michael A. Sandusky a business writer at Paper Fellows and Big Assignments. What Michael is alluding to is that the more devices we have connected the more of our personal information are trusted to someone else. Lawyers have seen an enormous increase in cases where an individual's personal information is misappropriated or improperly handled. Smartphones, home security systems, and virtual assistant devices like Alexa or Google Home, are all examples of recent IoT tech that can lead to this.
Information Gathering Regulations: As previously mentioned, the field of law has not kept up with the advancements in personal information collecting devices connected to the IoT. Large corporations have very little legal framework which they are required to operate in. While there are laws about how personal information can be used, there is not nearly as much regarding what information can be collected, how long it can be stored, and how it can be stored.
About the Author: Molly Crockett is a tech security blogger for Academized. Over the last decade, she has focused on how businesses, large and small, can secure their private information and data in the IoT age. She also writes for Essayroo and Boomessays blogs.