There could be an explosion of litigation approaching in Oregon and worldwide regarding devices that have internet connectivity. Such devices are called the “Internet of Things” (IOT) and they are able to connect to the internet and exchange information thereon. This includes all of the basic devices that one would think of, such as laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets, but it also includes new entries. The newer connections for IOT devices include TVs, medical notification tools, medical data devices, home security systems, cars, and many others. As the volume increases, the chances for wrongdoing, along with expected increases in consumer and business litigation, will continue to grow.
Any business that is associated with the manufacture, sale, marketing and development of these devices are vulnerable to the possibility of business litigation, either with consumers or other business entities. High-stakes digital ransom schemes can be imagined with respect to these devices. Where security, physical safety and health are involved, such schemes are particularly egregious.
These events have been rare but common sense and some recent litigation matters point to the handwriting on the proverbial wall. In one recent federal court case, for example, plaintiffs sued carmakers and infotainment manufacturers who produce devices that are placed in certain Dodge and Jeep vehicles. They claimed that hackers could remotely access the vehicles and issue directives to them. In another case, a device connected to the internet was allegedly used to collect highly personal data on users.
In that case, the manufacturer paid $3.75 million in settlement funds to compensate purchasers of the device for intrusions into their privacy. Many of the IOT devices are vulnerable to hacking techniques. That means that companies associated with making, building, constructing, selling or managing such devices are potentially prone to being compelled into a business litigation matter. Business entities in Oregon and other states will be best served by taking such threats seriously and seeking expert assistance in reducing the risk to the company.