Procedure : 2009/2224(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0154/2010

Texts tabled :

A7-0154/2010

Debates :

PV 14/06/2010 - 26
CRE 14/06/2010 - 26

Votes :

PV 15/06/2010 - 7.12
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2010)0207

REPORT     
PDF 235kWORD 175k
10 May 2010
PE 438.414v02-00 A7-0154/2010

on the Internet of Things

(2009/2224(INI))

Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Rapporteur: Maria Badia i Cutchet

AMENDMENTS
MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 OPINION of the Committee on International Trade
 OPINION of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection
 OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AFFAIRS
 RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the Internet of Things

(2009/2224(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 18 June 2009 on the ‘Internet of Things – An action plan for Europe’ (COM(2009)0278),

–   having regard to the work programme presented by the Spanish Presidency of the EU on 27 November 2009, and in particular the objective of developing the Internet of the Future,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 28 January 2009 on ‘Investing today for tomorrow’s Europe’ (COM(2009)0036),

–   having regard to the Commission recommendation on the implementation of privacy and data protection principles in applications supported by radio-frequency identification (C(2009)3200),

–   having regard to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector,

–   having regard to the European economic recovery plan for a swifter return to economic growth (COM(2008)0800),

–    having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on a new Digital Agenda for Europe: 2015.eu(1),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0154/2010),

A. whereas the internet has developed rapidly in the last 25 years and this development is forecast to continue in terms of both distribution – with the expansion of broadband – and new applications,

B   whereas the Internet of Things (IoT) is able to meet the expectations of society and of citizens, and whereas research is needed in order to understand what those expectations are and the areas in which sensitivities about, and concern for, personal privacy and information may block applications,

C.  whereas information and communication technologies (ICT) are important in that they promote social development and economic growth and encourage research, innovation and creativity among European public and private bodies,

D.  whereas the EU should devise a common framework of reference in order to frame and strengthen rules on system governance, confidentiality, information security, ethical management, privacy, the collection and storage of personal data and consumer information,

E.  whereas the term ‘Internet of Things’ refers to the general concept of objects (both electronic artefacts and objects in everyday use) that can be read, recognised, addressed, located and/or controlled remotely through the internet,

F.   whereas the Internet of Things is expected to develop rapidly in the years ahead and thus requires safe, transparent and multilateral governance,

G. whereas the internet of the future will go beyond the present traditional boundaries of the virtual world by being linked to the world of physical objects,

H.  whereas radio frequency identification (RFID) and other IoT-related technologies have advantages over bar codes and magnetic strips, and have many more applications, which can be interfaced with other networks – such as mobile phone networks – and could be developed still further once interfaced with sensors measuring aspects such as geolocation (e.g. the Galileo satellite system), temperature, light, pressure and g-forces; whereas the widespread introduction of RFID chips should significantly reduce their unit price as well as the cost of the respective readers,

I.   whereas RFID technology may be regarded as a catalyst and accelerator for the economic development of the information and communication industry,

J.    whereas RFID technology and other IoT-related technologies are already being applied in the manufacturing, logistics and supply-chain sectors, offer benefits in terms of product identification and traceability and have promising potential for developments in many other areas, such as health care, transport and energy efficiency, environment, retail and the fight against counterfeiting,

K. whereas, as with all e-Health systems, the design, development and implementation of RFID-enabled systems require the direct involvement of healthcare professionals, patients and relevant committees (on data protection and ethics, for example),

L.  whereas RFID can help to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and offer product-level carbon accounting,

M.  whereas RFID technology and other IoT-related technologies can benefit the public in terms of quality of life, safety,security and well-being, provided that facets relating to the protection of privacy and of personal data are properly managed,

N. whereas there is a need for sustainable, energy-efficient communication standards that focus on security and privacy and use compatible or identical protocols at different frequencies;

O.  whereas all everyday objects (such as transport cards, clothes, mobile telephones and cars) could ultimately be fitted with RFID chips, which will quickly take on major economic importance owing to the wide range of applications for which they may be used,

P.   whereas the Internet of Things will permit the networking of billions of machines, which will be able to communicate and interact with one another via wireless technologies combined with logical and physical addressing protocols; whereas the Internet of Things should, through the use of electronic identification systems and wireless mobile devices, enable digital entities and physical objects to be identified directly and conclusively so as to allow the data they contain to be retrieved, stored, transferred and continuously processed,

Q.  whereas the miniaturisation of products used in the Internet of Things involves technological challenges, such as in incorporating electronics, sensors and the power supply and RFID transmission system into a chip measuring only a few millimetres,

R.   whereas, although RFID chips will be used in a still-wider range of applications in the future, this technology raises new data-protection issues, the most significant of which is the fact that the chips are totally or well-nigh invisible,

S.   whereas industry standards are very important, whereas RFID standardisation needs to mature and whereas the RFID standard mandate assigned jointly to the CEN and the ETSI (European Standard Organisations) in 2009 will therefore contribute to more innovative products and services using RFID,

T.   whereas it is important to raise European citizens’ awareness of new technologies and their applications, including their social and environmental impact, and to promote digital literacy and e-skills among consumers,

U. whereas the development of the Internet of Things should be inclusive and accessible to all EU citizens, and be supported by effective policies aimed at closing the digital gap within the EU and empowering more citizens with e-skills and a knowledge of their digital surroundings,

V.  whereas the benefits of IoT-related technologies must be strengthened through effective security, which is an essential feature of any development at risk of jeopardising the security of personal data and the public’s trust in those who hold information about them,

W. whereas that the social impact of the development of the Internet of Things is unknown, and may widen the current digital divide or create a new one,

1.   Welcomes the communication from the Commission and endorses in principle the broad outlines of the action plan to promote the Internet of Things;

2.   Takes the view that the expansion of the Internet of Things will enhance person-to-thing and thing-to-thing interaction, which can bring tremendous benefits for EU citizens if it respects security, data protection and privacy;

3.   Endorses the Commission’s focus on safety, security, the protection of personal data and privacy and governance of the Internet of Things, because respect for privacy and the protection of personal data, together with openness and interoperability, is the only way IoT will gain wider social acceptance; calls on the Commission to encourage all European and international stakeholders to tackle cyber security-related threats; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to encourage the Member States to implement all existing international cyber security provisions, including the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime;

4.   Firmly believes that protection of privacy constitutes a core value and that all users should have control over their personal data; calls therefore for the adaptation of the Data Protection Directive to the current digital environment;

5.   Appreciates the fact that the Commission is reacting in a timely way to the new developments in this sector, thereby enabling the political system to set rules at an early enough stage;

6.   Stresses that a precondition for promoting technology is the introduction of legal provisions to reinforce respect for fundamental values and for the protection of personal data and privacy;

7.   Stresses that security and privacy issues should be addressed in the forthcoming standards, which must define different security features ensuring confidentiality, integrity or the availability of services;

8.   Calls on the Commission to coordinate its work on the Internet of Things with its overall work on the digital agenda;

9.   Calls on the Commission to conduct an assessment of the impact of using the current ‘internet’ network infrastructure for IoT applications and hardware, in terms of network congestion and data security, in order to determine whether IoT applications and hardware are compatible and appropriate;

10. Takes the view that the development of the Internet of Things and related applications will have a major impact on the daily lives of Europeans and their habits in the years ahead, leading to a broad range of economic and social changes;

11. Believes that it is necessary to build an inclusive Internet of Things, avoiding from the outset the risk – at both Member State and regional level – of unequal development, spread and use of IoT technologies; notes that the Commission’s communication does not give enough consideration to these issues, which should ideally be dealt with before the Internet of Things is further developed;

12. Calls on the Commission to take account of less developed regions of the Union in the context of ICT and Internet of Things planning; calls on the Member States to secure co-financing for the implementation of these technologies and other ICT projects in such regions, so as to ensure their participation and prevent them being excluded from common European ventures;

13. Stresses that, while the use of RFID chips can be effective in combating counterfeiting, preventing the abduction of babies from maternity wards and identifying animals, as well as in a range of other areas, it can also be dangerous and create ethical problems for individuals and for society, against which appropriate safeguards will need to be found;

14. Stresses the importance of studying the social, ethical and cultural implications of the Internet of Things, in the light of the potentially far-reaching transformation of civilisation that will be brought about by these technologies; takes the view, therefore, that it is important for socio-economic research and political debate on the Internet of Things to go hand in hand with technological research and its advancement, and calls on the Commission to set up a panel of experts to carry out an in-depth assessment of these aspects and propose an ethical framework for the development of related technologies and applications;

15. Points out that RFID technology and other IoT-related technologies for the intelligent labelling of products and consumer goods, and for things-to-person communication systems, can be used anywhere and in practice are quiet and unobtrusive; calls, therefore, for such technology to be the subject of further, more detailed, assessments by the Commission, covering, in particular:

· the impact on health of radio waves and other means of enabling identification technologies;

· the environmental impact of the chips and of their recycling;

· user privacy and trust;

· the increased cyber security risks;

· the use of smart chips in specific products;

· the right to ‘chip silence’, which provides empowerment and user control;

· guarantees for the public as regards protection during the collection and processing of personal data;

· developing an additional network structure and infrastructure for IoT applications and hardware;

· ensuring the best possible protection for EU citizens and businesses from all kinds of online cyber attacks;

· the impact of electromagnetic fields on animals, especially birds in cities;

· the harmonisation of regional standards;

· the development of open technological standards and interoperability between different systems;

and for it to be the subject of a specific European regulation, if appropriate;

16. Stresses that the consumer has the right to privacy by opt-in and/or privacy by design, notably through the use of automatic tag disablement at the point of sale, unless the consumer expressly agrees otherwise; notes in this regard the opinion issued by the European Data Protection Supervisor; points out that consideration must be given to privacy and security at the earliest possible stage in the development and deployment of any IOT technologies; underlines that RFID applications must be operated in accordance with the rules on privacy and data protection enshrined in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; calls on the Commission to reflect on citizens’ right to choose non IoT-equipped products or to disconnect from their networked environment at any time;

17. Notes that, while passive RFID tags are limited in range, active RFID tags can transmit data at much greater distances; stresses, in this connection, that clear guidelines must be laid down for each individual type of RFID;

18. Calls on the Commission to clarify the issue of who owns and controls data that is automatically collected and interpreted;

19. Calls on manufacturers to secure the right to ‘chip silence’ by making RFID tags removable or otherwise easily disabled by the consumer after purchase; stresses that consumers must be informed about the presence of either passive or active RFID tags, the reading range, the kind of data shared – either received or transmitted – by the devices and the use of those data, and that this information must be clearly marked on any packaging and set out in more detail in any documentation;

20. Calls for RFID application operators to take all reasonable steps to ensure that data does not relate to an identified or identifiable natural person through any means likely to be used by either the RFID application operator or any other person, unless such data is processed in compliance with the applicable principles and legal rules on data protection;

21. Stresses that, given that the chips attached to retail products are not intended for use outside retail outlets, it should be possible for them to be factory-fitted with devices that will deactivate them and thus limit data retention;

22. Believes that consumers should be given the opportunity to opt-in or opt-out of the Internet of Things, including the ability to opt-out of individual IoT technologies without disabling other applications or a device as a whole;

23. Stresses the need for the highest possible level of device security and secure transmission systems to be included in all IoT technologies in order to prevent fraud and allow proper device identity authentication and authorisation; notes the potential for identification and product fraud through the cloning of IoT tags or the interception of shared data; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure the development of a transparent IoT system that takes into consideration the following aspects in particular:

•  explicitly mentioning the presence of means of enabling identification and traceability;

•   security measures ensuring that only authorised users can access data;

•  enabling consumers and the assigning authorities to check the readability of data and the functioning of the system;

24. Considers it a priority to ensure a global regulatory framework and specific timescales at European level in order to encourage and facilitate public and private investment in the field of the Internet of Things and in smart networks needed to support the development of new technologies;

25. Notes that, while RFIDs are important, other technologies also form part of the Internet of Things; stresses that research on funding and governance issues should also be directed to these technologies;

26. Calls on the Commission to consider using IoT applications to advance several ongoing EU initiatives such as ‘ICT for energy efficiency’, ‘smart metering’, ‘energy labelling’, ‘energy performance of buildings’ and ‘protection form counterfeit medicinal and other products’;

27. Calls on the Commission to monitor possible new threats presented by the vulnerability of highly interlinked systems;

28. Calls on the Commission to make further efforts to ensure that IoT-related technologies include user requirements (e.g. a traceability de-activation option) and respect individual rights and freedoms; recalls in this context the key role played by the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) in ensuring the security of networks and information and, consequently, of the Internet of Things, which will help to build acceptance and trust among consumers;

29. Takes the view that the development of new applications and the actual functioning and business potential of the Internet of Things will be intrinsically linked to the trust European consumers have in the system, and points out that trust exists when doubts about potential threats to privacy and health are clarified;

30. Stresses that this trust must be based on a clear legal framework, including rules governing the control, collection, processing and use of the data collected and transmitted by the Internet of Things and the types of consent needed from consumers;

31. Believes that the IoT encompasses many benefits for people with disabilities and may be a way to meet the needs of an ageing population and provide assertive care services; emphasises in this context that with the assistance of this technology, blind and visually impaired persons can experience their environment more fully through the use of electronic aids; stresses, however, that measures need to be taken to ensure privacy protection, ease of installation and operation and the provision of information to consumers about such services;

32. Stresses that follow-up costs – such as the electricity consumption of the application and the deployment of things – must be transparent to the consumer;

33. Believes that the Internet of Things and ICT projects in general require broad information campaigns to explain to citizens the purpose of their implementation; stresses that informing and educating society about the potential uses and clear benefits of items such as RFID is crucial in order to prevent the project being misinterpreted and failing to attract citizens’ support; underlines that, in order to make full use of the Internet of Things, for both individual and common benefit, users need to be provided with the e-skills necessary to understand these new technologies, and must be motivated and able to make proper use of them;

34. Notes that the Internet of Things will lead to the collection of truly massive amounts of data; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to submit a proposal for the adaptation of the European Data Protection Directive with a view to addressing the data collected and transmitted by the Internet of Things;

35. Believes that a general principle should be adopted whereby IoT technologies should be designed to collect and use only the absolute minimum amount of data needed to perform their function, and should prevented from collecting any supplementary data;

36. Calls for a significant amount of the data shared by the Internet of Things to be made anonymous before being transmitted, in order to secure privacy;

37. Points out to the Commission that other parts of the world, in particular Asia, are developing faster in this sector, and that a proactive approach and close cooperation with the rest of the world will therefore be necessary when drawing up rules applicable to the political system and laying down technical standards for the Internet of Things;

38. Stresses that, in order to revive the European economy, investment must be made in new information and communication technologies in order to facilitate economic growth by enabling ever-increasing numbers of European citizens and enterprises to gain access to new systems and new applications; emphasises that Europe should be at the cutting edge of the development of internet technologies; proposes that the EU’s ICT research budget be doubled and that the budget for ICT take-up be multiplied by four in the next Financial Perspective;

39. Underlines that research will play a key role in creating competition between providers of the computing capacity that is required for IoT applications to function in real time;

40. Calls on the Commission to continue and increase its funding for projects under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP) in the field of the Internet of Things in order to bolster the European ICT sector, and endorses the use of the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) to promote its expansion; calls, especially, for the development of pilot projects that may have an immediate positive effect on the everyday lives of European citizens in the areas of e-Health, e-Learning, e-Commerce, e-Accessibility and energy efficiency; is concerned, however, about the red tape associated with the FP and calls on the Commission to eliminate it by re-engineering FP processes and creating a users’ board;

41. Believes that the Internet of Things has significant potential in terms of economic and productive development, better-quality services, the optimisation of corporate logistics and distribution chains, inventory management and the creation of new employment and business opportunities;

42. Stresses that RFID technologies will, on the one hand, enable European industries to control the volume of goods in circulation (i.e. by producing only when necessary, thereby protecting the environment) and, on the other hand, offer an effective means of combating piracy and counterfeiting, as it will be possible to trace the goods concerned;

43. Believes that applying new technologies to production processes will increase the resource efficiency and market competitiveness of consumer goods;

44. Stresses that intensive international dialogue and joint action plans are needed with respect to the Internet of Things; calls on the Commission to examine the effects of the Internet of Things on international trade;

45. Endorses the Commission’s intention to continue to monitor and assess the need for additional harmonised spectrums for specific IoT purposes, taking into consideration the different characteristics and capabilities of various electromagnetic frequency bands, and calls therefore on the Commission, when setting the Union’s coordination and harmonisation objectives through the Multiannual Radio Spectrum Policy Programmes, to take into account the needs of the Internet of Things; stresses that such spectrums should remain publicly owned, and that their use should be regulated in such a way as to encourage and help fund more technological research and development in this field; believes that unlicensed spectrum should allow the use of new technologies and services (wireless networking) to emerge so as to foster innovation;

46. Stresses the danger of legal uncertainty in the case of cloud computing;

47. Takes the view that the involvement of all political levels (EU, national and regional) is an essential prerequisite for the effective development and take-up of the Internet of Things; emphasises the key role that regional and local authorities and cities will play in the development of the Internet of Things, moving it beyond the purely private sphere; points also to the extensive use that local authorities can make of the Internet of Things, for example in the organisation of public transport, waste collection, the calculation of pollution levels and traffic management; calls on the Commission to consult all political levels in its work on the Internet of Things, in a spirit of multi-level governance;

48. Notes that the information provided by IoT technologies must be traceable, verifiable, and correctable in the event that a system based on it breaks down; stresses that, as these technologies are incorporated into safety systems, such as traffic control or temperature regulation, misinformation could put lives in danger;

49. Stresses that new technologies are critical in order to simplify transportation chains, improve the quality and efficiency of transportation, support the development of intelligent transport systems and facilitate green corridors, and that RFID can offer innovative ways of conducting business operations while enhancing customer satisfaction;

50. Takes the view that using the Internet of Things in connection with nature can help in the development of green technologies by increasing energy efficiency and hence also environmental protection, and enhance the relationship between ICTs and nature;

51. Calls on the Commission to strive to establish common international norms for the standardisation of RFID and other IoT technologies and their applications, with a view to facilitating interoperability and an open, transparent and technologically neutral infrastructure; emphasises that, without clear and recognised standards such as the TCP5/IP6 in the internet world, the expansion of the Internet of Things beyond RFID solutions cannot reach a global scale;

52. Supports the proposal to adopt as swiftly as possible the Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) as a basis for the future expansion and simplification of the internet;

53. Welcomes the Commission’s intention to present, in 2010, a communication on security, privacy and trust in the information society; stresses the importance of that communication and of the proposed measures for strengthening the rules on aspects relating to information security, privacy and the protection of personal data; calls on the Commission actively to involve all relevant stakeholders, including the ENISA and the European Data Protection Supervisor;

54. Believes in the importance of ensuring that all fundamental rights – not only privacy – are protected in the process of developing the Internet of Things;

55. Believes that the Commission should make recommendations concerning the tasks and responsibilities of public administrative, legislative and law enforcement agencies with respect to the Internet of Things;

56. Calls on the Commission to monitor closely the implementation of the European regulations already adopted in this area and to present, by the end of the year, a timetable for the guidelines it intends to propose at EU level for improving the safety of the Internet of Things and of RFID applications;

57. Asks the Commission to initiate a social dialogue regarding the Internet of Things, and to provide information on the positive and negative effects of the new technologies on everyday life; calls on the Commission, therefore, to engage in proactive consultation with the European industry sector, and to encourage it to play a leading role in designing and proposing innovative, standardised and interoperable technologies;

58. Calls on the Commission to involve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to an adequate extent in the Internet of Things action plan;

59. Also calls on the Commission to keep it regularly updated on developments in the dialogue with operators in this field and with stakeholders, and on the initiatives it intends to take;

60. Believes that the Commission should explore the possibility of further reducing data roaming costs;

61. Stresses that the governance of the Internet of Things must keep ‘red tape’ to a minimum and involve all relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process, and calls therefore for proper and adequate regulation at EU level;

62. Calls on the Commission to clarify which aspects of internet governance it feels need to be regulated at this time in relation to the Internet of Things, and which system will be able to safeguard the general public interest;

63. Calls on the Commission, therefore, to analyse issues relevant to the governance of the Internet of Things with the help of operators in the sector; also considers it vital to analyse aspects relating to Wi-Fi security systems;

64. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1)

2009/2225(INI), Del Castillo report, A7-0066/2010.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Some forty years have passed since the first Internet applications appeared, as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, pointed out when recently invited to speak at the European Parliament(1). Since then, the growth of the Internet has been steady and uninterrupted, especially in the last 25 years. Today, the Internet connects around 1.5 billion people; its open architecture, based on a standardised technology, has facilitated its expansion and interoperability worldwide.

The Internet of Things, which was launched in the United States in 1999, is in its turn becoming ever more popular and in the next 10 to 15 years is set to revolutionise person-to-thing and thing-to-thing interaction thanks to the growing use of RFID (radio frequency identification) technologies.

The key element in RFID technology is the transponder (or tag), which is an electronic component consisting of a chip and a antenna. The chip – which measures just a few centimetres – can store, receive and transmit wirelessly information on the nature and composition of the product to which it has been applied.

Experts in the field claim that in the future these chips will replace the bar codes in use today; the advantages of RFID technology over the one currently used owe much to the fact that the chip does not have to be touched to be read, as in the case of magnetic strips, or to be visible, as in the case of bar codes. Also to be taken into consideration is the specificity and amount of information that this technology enables these chips to hold concerning the objects to which they are linked.

Internet of Things applications already in use and future developments

There are already a range of examples of these:

•  in the automotive sector, chips are able to convey real time information on tyre pressure to the driver;

•  in the agrifood sector, RFID technology enables high standards to be assured as regards the hygiene and food safety, and the chemical, physical and organoleptic characteristics of the product sold. Chips also permit better and faster product traceability.

Many other applications have already been developed and applied in the logistics and transport sectors, with very good results; some countries (Great Britain and the USA) have begun to use a chip in their passports.

Turning to the future, RFID technology combined with an IP (Internet protocol) address will allow an enormous wireless ‘web of things’ to be created. The most commonly cited practical example of this is that of fridges which, if suitably programmed, will be able to detect any product past its use-by date, or approaching this, and will inform the consumer. Further developments are envisaged once the system has been interfaced with Galileo.

The Commission communication of 18 June 2009(2), which forms the basis for this report, contains an action plan – consisting of the 14 lines of action presented – for, inter alia, developing the Internet of Things and promoting its expansion.

Rapporteur’s position

Your rapporteur endorses the broad outlines of the communication presented by the Commission; she nevertheless considers it essential to carefully assess whether the legislation currently in force is sufficient to cover future developments in this area or whether there is a need for further, more detailed, assessments of some of the more significant aspects – especially those with a direct impact on the lives and privacy of individuals and their personal data and on consumer health – and to adopt new Community legislation in this field.

Your rapporteur fears that some lines of action in the plan drawn up by the Commission may be inadequate in view of the rapid development of RFID technology. She therefore considers that greater emphasis should be placed on certain themes, and in particular those concerning:

- the impact of radio waves on health;

- the electromagnetic impact of the chips;

- their recycling;

- consumer privacy;

- the use of smart chips in specific products;

- the right to ‘chip silence’;

- guarantees for the public as regards the protection of personal data;

Your rapporteur takes the view that the development of new applications and the actual functioning of the Internet of Things, with the big impact it will have on the daily lives of Europeans and their habits, will be intrinsically linked to the trust European consumers have in the system.

It therefore seems to her a priority to ensure a regulatory and legal framework that on the one hand safeguards the European consumer while on the other hand encouraging public and private sector investment in the field of the Internet of Things.

The Internet of Things offers a major economic opportunity as it will enable the optimisation of productive processes and energy consumption, generate new jobs, and create new services for an ever-increasing number of Europeans and European companies.

If the European Union genuinely plans to become a market leader in this field, it must adopt a proactive approach and boost research, encouraging pilot projects.

(1)

8th STOA Annual Lecture: 1 December 2009.

(2)

COM(2009) 0278


OPINION of the Committee on International Trade (30.4.2010)

for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

on the Internet of Things

(2009/2224(INI))

Rapporteur: William (The Earl of) Dartmouth

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on International Trade calls on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.  Notes that, in our globalised world, technological advance is likely to have substantial impacts on innovation, competitiveness and information flow, and consequently on international trade; points out in particular that the use of intelligent technologies can improve both the quantity and the quality of information flow, providing speed, accuracy and transparency in commercial transactions;

2.  Notes that the first and most tangible application of the technologies of the Internet of Things will take place in the sector of commerce, through the replacement of bar codes with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags for all products; considers that, because of the qualitatively and quantitatively greater technological possibilities offered by the new technology as compared with the previous one, this transition can provide multiple benefits for manufacturers/producers, traders and consumers, chiefly through the improvement of service quality and fundamental changes to the supply and distribution chain;

3.   Invites the Commission to make an assessment of any impact that its proposed strategy might have on the productivity and competitiveness of European enterprises in the international market;

4.  Stresses that while an Internet of Things will develop locally, an open, transparent and, above all, accessible development of the new technologies would enhance sustainable development opportunities worldwide and could facilitate the transition to a carbon-neutral economy;

5.  Considers that through the combination of traceability technologies and production, trade and product-origin security tags, the Internet of Things can contribute in important ways to the conduct of trade, for instance in stamping out trafficking in pirated goods, improving and creating more integrated protection of consumer health, avoiding future food crises, saving energy and protecting the environment;

6.  Believes that the Internet of Things can contribute to the facilitation of trade flows between the EU and third countries through the expansion of markets and the securing of quality guarantees for the products traded;

7.  Invites the Commission to take into account the financial and infrastructural limitations of SMEs when formulating technical and ICT management and standards such as the ones proposed in its communication; reiterates that SMEs form the backbone of European productivity and employment and that their interests should be protected horizontally across the various pieces of legislation the EU produces; the economic experience is that SMEs lead the economy of the European Union out of recession; calls on the Commission, therefore, to place a particular emphasis on SMEs and their access to new systems and applications;

8.  Is deeply concerned about personal data protection and the protection of consumers’ privacy in general, since there are countless regulatory and prescriptive gaps and ambiguities concerning vital aspects of the implementation of the technologies for the Internet of Things; considers that the existing dangers relating to the protection of the personal data of users of the internet are very much smaller than the dangers that will arise as the Internet of Things gradually expands; calls, therefore, upon the Commission to include issues relating to personal data protection that are raised with reference to the expansion of the Internet of Things in all ongoing matters;

9.  Urges caution regarding centralised infrastructure and possible abuses through central monitoring of product and information flows, particularly with reference to electronic military equipment codes and the area of State sovereignty in general;

10. Calls on the Commission to contribute actively to the definition and setting of principles and rules for the governance of the Internet of Things together with its trading partners in international forums, such as the World Trade Organisation;

11. Calls on the Commission to continue funding projects under the 7th Framework Programme and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme in order to increase European Union competitiveness on the international market in the field of the Internet of Things;

12. Underlines the importance of creating a safe and transparent system of governance for the Internet of Things.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

28.4.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

17

0

1

Members present for the final vote

Kader Arif, Daniel Caspary, Joe Higgins, Yannick Jadot, Metin Kazak, Bernd Lange, Emilio Menéndez del Valle, Vital Moreira, Niccolò Rinaldi, Helmut Scholz, Peter Šťastný, Gianluca Susta, Jan Zahradil, Pablo Zalba Bidegain, Paweł Zalewski

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Josefa Andrés Barea, George Sabin Cutaş, Albert Deß, Elisabeth Köstinger, Georgios Papastamkos, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa


OPINION of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (28.4.2010)

for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

on the Internet of Things

(2009/2224(INI))

Rapporteur: Christian Engström

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection calls on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

1.   Calls on the Commission to clarify what aspects of Internet governance it feels need to be regulated at this time in relation to the Internet of Things and what system will be able to safeguard the general public interest;

2.   Therefore calls on the Commission to analyse issues relevant to the governance of the Internet of Things with the help of operators in the sector; also considers it vital to analyse aspects relating to Wi-Fi security systems;

3.   Calls on the Commission to clarify the issue of who owns and controls data that is automatically collected and interpreted;

4.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to create more initiatives for free access to the new technologies; stresses that every initiative should have the aim of facilitating connection to, and use of, information and communication technologies and of including disadvantaged social groups;

5.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States, given the major changes that the Internet of Things will involve, to provide for uniform development of technologies throughout the EU territory in order to avoid creating even greater gaps than there are already, to involve the public authorities in the process, and to recognise that public-private partnerships should be strengthened in relation to the Internet of Things and Internet governance;

6.   Welcomes the Commission’s intention to publish, in 2010, a Communication on privacy and trust in the information society and to continuously monitor the protection of personal data aspects, in order to safeguard consumer rights and interests;

7.  Stresses that any data that can be tied to a specific consumer, through data mining or by other means, constitutes personal data that must be handled in compliance with privacy and data protection principles;

8.   Stresses that transparency of follow-up costs is needed for the consumer, for example in relation to the electricity consumption of the application and deployment of things;

9.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to launch a debate on the technical and legal aspects of the ‘right to silence of the chips’, i.e. the principle that individuals should be able to disconnect from their networked environment at any time;

10. Agrees that new standards need to be developed in an open, transparent and consensual manner with the participation of all interested parties; stresses that all new standards in this area need to be easily and freely available to anyone, and that reference implementations also need to be freely available, as is the case with standards developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF); stresses that the infrastructure of an Internet of Things needs to be efficient, scaleable, reliable, secure and confidential, thereby increasing consumer protection, particularly as regards privacy and data protection;

11. Points out that there is no scientific debate on the possible hazards and damage caused by electrosmog and that the Commission should not neglect this issue;

12. Stresses that innovation and creativity constitute significant added value for Europe’s economy and competitiveness and that they should be maintained and developed;

13. Agrees that it is essential that new systems and applications are not hampered by insurmountable barriers and that the interoperability of systems and applications should be encouraged;

14. Believes that the Commission should examine the possibility of further reducing data roaming costs;

15. Reminds the Commission that the EU does not currently have a leading role in terms of innovation in the field of the Internet of Things, and therefore calls on the Commission to increase funding for the Internet of Things, as part of research projects in the 7th Framework Programme and pilot projects within the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme, and also to focus on developing broadband infrastructure and the roll-out of broadband.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

28.4.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

27

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Cristian Silviu Buşoi, Lara Comi, Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, António Fernando Correia De Campos, Jürgen Creutzmann, Christian Engström, Evelyne Gebhardt, Louis Grech, Małgorzata Handzlik, Malcolm Harbour, Sandra Kalniete, Alan Kelly, Eija-Riitta Korhola, Edvard Kožušník, Giovanni La Via, Kurt Lechner, Toine Manders, Hans-Peter Mayer, Mitro Repo, Dominique Riquet, Robert Rochefort, Zuzana Roithová, Heide Rühle, Andreas Schwab, Róża Gräfin Von Thun Und Hohenstein, Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, Bernadette Vergnaud

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Pascal Canfin, Othmar Karas, Amalia Sartori, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa


OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AFFAIRS (30.4.2010)

for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

on the Internet of Things

(2009/2224(INI))

Rapporteur: Eva Lichtenberger

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Legal Affairs calls on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions in its motion for a resolution:

A. whereas the Internet of the future will go beyond today’s traditional boundaries of the virtual world by being linked to the world of physical objects,

B.  whereas, although RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips will be used in a still wider range of applications in the future, this technology raises new data-protection issues, the most significant among them being the fact that the chips are totally or well-nigh invisible,

C. whereas all everyday objects (such as transport cards, clothes, mobile telephones and cars) could ultimately be fitted with RFID chips, which will quickly take on major economic importance owing to the wide range of applications in which they may be used,

D. whereas the Internet of Things should, through the use of electronic identification systems and wireless mobile devices, enable digital entities and physical objects to be identified directly and conclusively so as to allow the data they contain to be retrieved, stored, transferred and continuously processed,

1.  Appreciates the fact that the Commission is reacting in a timely way to the new developments in this sector to enable the political system to set rules early enough;

2.  Points out to the Commission that other parts of the world, in particular Asia, are developing faster in this sector and that a proactive approach and close cooperation with the rest of the world will therefore be necessary when drawing up rules for the political system and laying down technical standards for the Internet of Things;

3.  Underlines the possible benefits for European competitiveness arising from the development of the Internet of Things;

4.  Asks the Member States and the Commission to guarantee the principle of ‘right to silence/silence of the chips’, which allows individuals and communities to disconnect from any Internet of Things application;

5.  Stresses that, given that the chips attached to retail products are not intended for use outside retail outlets, it should be possible for them to be factory-fitted with devices that will deactivate them and thus limit data retention;

6.  Recalls the need to inform, consult and actively involve consumers and consumer organisations in order to avoid negative developments and to protect civil rights, personal data and privacy;

7.  Draws attention to the need to promote security standards by ensuring that any personal data contained on the chips cannot be read remotely by third parties without the knowledge of the persons concerned;

8.  Calls on the Commission to monitor possible new threats posed by the vulnerability of highly interlinked systems;

9.   Points out that due account must be taken of the key data-protection principles of purpose, proportionality, transparency and security in the development of these technologies;

10. Stresses the danger of legal uncertainty in the case of cloud computing;

11. Supports the privacy by design approach as an indispensable rule to protect privacy in the future;

12. Stresses that, while the use of RFID chips can be effective in combating counterfeiting, in preventing the abduction of babies from maternity wards, in identifying animals and in a range of other areas, it can also be dangerous and create ethical problems for individuals and for society, against which appropriate safeguards will need to be found;

13. Believes it is necessary to study how Internet of Things applications will affect users’ control over their own privacy and how they will react, and how privacy and security features can be integrated into those systems from the early design stages; considers the protection of personal data to be essential, and accordingly calls on the Commission to conduct a study of the impact of Internet of Things applications;

14. Calls for the utmost vigilance to be shown in ensuring respect for fundamental rights wherever RFID chips are used, given than anyone who has a dedicated reader can read the contents of such chips, which may contain personal data enabling the individuals concerned to be remotely identified;

15. Asks that retailers should inform customers about the potential presence of an RFID (radio frequency identification) tag in a product;

16. Calls for RFID application operators to take all reasonable steps to ensure that data does not relate to an identified or identifiable natural person through any means likely to be used by either the RFID application operator or any other person, unless such data is processed in compliance with the applicable principles and legal rules on data protection;

17. Stresses that data protection, which has become essential in Europe’s modern and democratic society, in which ever-increasing volumes of personal data are collected, generated and analysed, should be accorded the status of a constitutional principle.

RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

28.4.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

22

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Raffaele Baldassarre, Luigi Berlinguer, Sebastian Valentin Bodu, Françoise Castex, Christian Engström, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Daniel Hannan, Klaus-Heiner Lehne, Antonio López-Istúriz White, Antonio Masip Hidalgo, Alajos Mészáros, Bernhard Rapkay, Evelyn Regner, Francesco Enrico Speroni, Kay Swinburne, Alexandra Thein, Diana Wallis, Rainer Wieland, Cecilia Wikström, Tadeusz Zwiefka

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Piotr Borys, Sergio Gaetano Cofferati, Kurt Lechner, Eva Lichtenberger, József Szájer


RESULT OF FINAL VOTE IN COMMITTEE

Date adopted

4.5.2010

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

47

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Jean-Pierre Audy, Zigmantas Balčytis, Bendt Bendtsen, Jan Březina, Reinhard Bütikofer, Maria Da Graça Carvalho, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Giles Chichester, Pilar del Castillo Vera, Christian Ehler, Lena Ek, Ioan Enciu, Adam Gierek, Jacky Hénin, Edit Herczog, Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, Philippe Lamberts, Bogdan Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Judith A. Merkies, Jaroslav Paška, Aldo Patriciello, Herbert Reul, Teresa Riera Madurell, Paul Rübig, Francisco Sosa Wagner, Konrad Szymański, Patrizia Toia, Evžen Tošenovský, Ioannis A. Tsoukalas, Claude Turmes, Vladimir Urutchev, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Henri Weber

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

António Fernando Correia De Campos, Andrzej Grzyb, Rebecca Harms, Ivailo Kalfin, Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Bernd Lange, Werner Langen, Marian-Jean Marinescu, Vladimír Remek, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, Catherine Trautmann, Lambert van Nistelrooij, Hermann Winkler

Last updated: 4 June 2010Legal notice