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10th European e-Accessibility Forum
e-Accessibility in a connected world

30 May 2016, 9am-6pm
Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, Paris

  Version française
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Connected objects and privacy issues

Stéphane PETITCOLAS (Paris)
Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL)

Speaker's information

photo Stéphane Petitcolas

A computer engineer by training, Stéphane Petitcolas joined the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL) in 2012. The CNIL is France's regulatory body whose mission is to ensure that data privacy law is applied to the collection, storage, and use of personal data. As head of the CNIL's Research and Development laboratory, Stéphane Petitcolas has worked with connected objects, smart metres and smartphones. He is also responsible for overseeing the technical application of data privacy law by the big Internet firms (Google, Apple and Facebook).



The Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL) is the French authority in charge of personal data. The CNIL is interested in the Internet of Things because IoT devices give unprecedented access to private data.

In 2020 it is estimated that we will have an average of 6.5 connected devices per person. This might seem like a lot but many of us already have a smartphone, a laptop and a desktop and a number of other connected devices in our homes.

All of these objects disseminate information about our private lives. As we begin to use objects to measure the amount of insulin in our body, for example, or the speed with which we drive our cars, the data collected becomes increasingly sensitive.

Digital transparency is therefore very important and the CNIL is working hard to safeguard this. Data on geolocation, name and address, application downloads, health, mobility, social network activity, etc. are being collected by all manner of third parties. The user must know exactly what they are signing up to when they use a particular object or service, and not find out after the fact.

For IoT health solutions in particular complete transparency on how personal data will be used is paramount, particularly when the system makes decisions in the place of the carer. Without trust, these objects will never take off, so providing clear indications on what data is collected, how it is used, and what can be done with it in both the short and long term is as much in the interests of the manufacturers and service providers as the end users.

One example of an area where the CNIL has been working to safeguard the privacy of data gathered by connected objects is the new smart electricity meter. Around 32 million smart meters will be deployed in France over the next few years in a push to save energy at a national level. Sensitive data collected by these metres could include the amount of power used by each household, at what time people wake up and go to sleep, the appliances used, etc. Following intensive consultations with the CNIL, it has been agreed that these metres will only collect data from a single day and go no further without the agreement of the user.

Watch Stéphane Petitcolas's presentation on YouTube (in French). For subtitles, please use the CC button, and if you require a transcript do not hesitate to contact us at contact[at]braillenet.org.


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