Top Streaming Brands Entangle Over Privacy as New U.S. Legislation Looms

Leading brands Spotify, Google and Apple have stepped dramatically onto the sensitive data privacy stage as new Internet privacy legislation gets underway in the United States.

Apple said it removed a majority of parental control apps from its App Store platform because they put user privacy and security at risk. The apps, it says, could inadvertently give a developer access to personal information including user location, browsing history, and what photos and videos have been taken with the camera.

Spotify then claimed Apple pulled the apps for anti-competitive reasons, an accusation leading to news that the EU would investigate Apple.

Google, meanwhile, announced it will roll out a dashboard function in its Chrome browser to offer users more control in fending off tracking cookies. 

But it was not without an apparent dig at Apple. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, in a New York Times op-ed this week asserted “privacy cannot be a luxury good offered only to people who can afford to buy premium products and services.” Apple CEO Tim Cook has, historically, made security central to Apple’s brand and has not been shy in criticizing rivals, either. 

The backdrop for the fracas is impending U.S. government action to require Internet device manufacturers to abide by new privacy restrictions.

Table: U.S. Internet of Things Privacy Legislation

California Consumer Privacy Act (California)Signed June 28, 2018
Security of Connected Devices Act (California)Signed September 28, 2018
Internet of Things Cybersecurity Privacy Act of 2019Introduced March 11, 2019

U.S. Lawmakers Introduce New IoT Security Act

U.S. lawmakers are now busy forging the Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019. The act seeks “to leverage Federal Government procurement power to encourage increased cybersecurity for Internet of Things devices.” U.S. governmental buying power is one way to shore up security requirements for IoT devices in general.

One such IoT device likely to be affected is smart speakers, a market in which Spotify, Google and Apple are major players. Smart speaker sales were valued at $2.68 Billion in 2018 and is expected to be worth $11.79 Billion by 2023. Music streaming is the number one application for smart-speaker use.

California in 2018 became the first U.S. state to pass an IoT cybersecurity law, affecting all smart devices sold in California. Manufacturers will be forced to assure “reasonable security” features to protect stored or transmitted information from “unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure.”

According to industry research company IoT Analytics, there are about 7 billion connected devices in the world. It anticipates this number to skyrocket to 21.5 billion devices by 2025.

The Internet of Everything (IoE): What to Know

  • A collective idea that future internet connections will not be restricted to laptop or desktop computers and tablets, extending beyond IoT definition
  • Applications include digital sensor tools/interfaces used for remote appliances to smarter and more well-connected mobile devices
  • Cisco, the computer networking conglomerate, believes Internet machines will only become smarter with more access to data and expanded networking opportunities.