LIVE FROM MWC SHANGHAI 2018: Manufacturers and services providers caught up in the “gold rush” of the internet of things (IoT) could be taking their eyes off the “significant” security and privacy risks associated with an increasing number of interconnected devices, argued Frederic Donck, director European Regional Bureau at the Internet Society.

Speaking to Mobile World Live ahead of his appearance in Thursday’s IoT Summit, Donck said both artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5G will lead to a greater number of devices and extended capabilities. However, he warned that companies responding to “market pressures for speed to market and reduced costs” may not be “adequately addressing” a major problem at hand.

“IoT is fundamentally extending the internet to a new class of connected devices,” he said. “Over time, we’ll probably be able to connect almost anything to the internet – the question though is do we need to and are we prepared for the privacy and security risks that come with this?”

Donck also warned that AI, which has been touted as a potential major driver for IoT, does indeed have the potential to be a significant force in expanding the development of interconnected devices – “however this could be both positive and negative”.

“Like many things, AI and IoT are tools and their impact depends on how they’re used and for what. It’s possible that we’ll be seeing more regulatory and policy pressures in this space, but enforcement will remain challenging.”

European challenges
With his focus on Europe, Donck noted that while the European Commission has tipped the market value for IoT in the continent to exceed €1 trillion by 2020, challenges to keep pace with other leading regions remained.

“While European industry is strong in digital sectors and Europe is a leading region for research and development, some of the SMEs are struggling to keep up with the competition from other parts of the world and there are disparities in digitalisation between regions in high-tech sectors such as IoT,” he said.