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Africa in IOT legislation balancing act

Africa in IOT legislation balancing act

Amid an increase in proposals to launch and implement IOT services across Africa, ICT and telecoms experts warn of the need to adapt existing legislation to protect users from data breaches and other cyber crime.

Nairobi-based telecommunications analyst Tom Makau believes that IOT implementation and machine-to-machine communication will only increase the volume of data touch points.

"There is an increasing number of sensors and everyday objects that were previously unconnected that are now connected to the internet. It is emerging that users do not have the power to control what data is collected about them and how this data can be used or stored, privacy concerns have been on the rise in recent times," said Makau.

Nick Watson, VP of EMEA at Ruckus Networks feels IT experts should take the lead and ensure their systems are based on best practices and comply with the law.

"The people with the expert knowledge need to drive these policies, indeed it is in their interest to do so. If we the manufacturers of technology want to see the continued rapid growth through adoption of ever-pervasive wireless connectivity, then we need to pre-test the overall solutions and provide our stamp of approval," Watson said.

"Legislators need guidance, so that what they enforce is practical and effective; of course, they in turn need to challenge the manufacturers and technologists to validate their claims," he added.

Watson referenced the US state of California which is seeking to enact laws that will guide IOT implementation.

"The legislation requires manufacturers of connected devices to equip those devices with reasonable security features appropriate to the nature of the device. This legislation will take effect from 2020," he said.

But Makau places the core responsibility on the shoulders of regulators, especially when it comes to who has access to consumer data in an IOT system.

"The lack of a legal and regulatory framework for the protection of (the) consumer's right to privacy on IOT can lead to negative consequences, such as those witnessed on the mobile telephony space where criminals perform fraud and identity theft," he warned.

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