The hidden dark side of connected vehicles – Volkswagen’s electronic tinkering

The big bombshell news today on the IoT (internet of things) front was that Volkswagen was caught programming their diesel vehicles to behave better during emission testing. I guess that is much more sophisticated then when a car dealer would roll back the odometer on a used car! The fall out of this news was immediate. The company’s stock tumbled as much as 20%, seeing almost $17b of market value disappearing from Volkswagen AG. Unfortunately for the German automotive giant the pain is not about to end. The United States Environmental Protection Agency, warned that it could levy a fine as high as $18billion for the infractions. Ouch.

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This will be a severe blow to Volkswagen, but it will have some other repercussions as well.  A new reason for some to pooh pooh IoT. I recently wrote a blog post that called out some backlash we are seeing when it comes to connected things. While some may scoff and laugh at such connected items as cat water bowls, jars and socks, I would argue the business plans behind those are not as silly as one might think. Click here for my post. But the cause of that backlash is real. Over-hyped and overpriced connected objects for the sake of it, does not make sense. There has to be a business model associated with the connected item.

It is the same with the stories that come out about someone’s connected skate board being hacked. Yes there is the potential for mischievous acts being perpetrated. But remember that over a decade ago online banking and shopping also fell under the fear mongering – your accounts and credit cards are not safe!!!!! And yes…some breaches have occurred. But as I recall Jesse James and Billy the Kid robbed brick and mortar banks long before the internet. That created a lot of fear, yet people in modern society still having bank accounts…in brick and mortar banks as well as do plenty of on line banking and shopping.

Now I am sure we will hear fear mongering about the companies that are doing the connecting finding some way to “get away” with something. And from the looks of it Volkswagen is guilty of doing so. But this just means that regulators and governments will have to do a better job monitoring. This does not mean that a connected car is now a bad thing. With all new technologies there is a learning curve: for consumers, the creators of the technology, the oversight of the usage and the business models best served. We are only beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to IoT. There will be bumps and abuses of the technology, but there continues to be great promise. Let’s not let the worry mongering detract from the possible.

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Filed under Current Events, IoT

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