How the Internet of Things Limits Consumer Choice – The Atlantic

In theory, the Internet of Things—the connected network of tiny computers inside home appliances, household objects, even clothing—promises to make your life easier and your work more efficient. … In theory, connected sensors will anticipate your needs, saving you time, money, and energy. Except when the companies that make these connected objects act in a way that runs counter to the consumer’s best interests

companies set up proprietary standards to ensure that their customers don’t use someone else’s products with theirs … To stop competitors just reverse-engineering the proprietary standard and making compatible peripherals, these companies rely on a 1998 law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). … Specifically, the DMCA includes an anti-circumvention provision, which prohibits companies from circumventing “technological protection measures” that “effectively control access” to copyrighted works. That means it’s illegal for someone to create a Hue-compatible lightbulb without Philips’ permission, a K-cup-compatible coffee pod without Keurigs’, or an HP-printer compatible cartridge without HP’s.

Because companies can enforce anti-competitive behavior this way, there’s a litany of things that just don’t exist, even though they would make life easier for consumers in significant ways.

the Internet of Things is on track to become a battleground of competing standards, as companies try to build monopolies by locking each other out.

Source: How the Internet of Things Limits Consumer Choice – The Atlantic, by Bruce Schneier