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Towards a Trustmark for IoT (May 2018)


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Draft stage, May 2018.

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Towards a Trustmark for IoT (May 2018)

  1. 1. Fostering the creation of a responsible & human-centric Internet of Things Towards a Trustmark for IoT
  2. 2. A Trustmark for IoT - Draſt, May 2018 - Peter Bihr / ThingsCon This work is created as part of a Mozilla Fellowship. Unless otherwise noted, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0. Please note that this is early stage concept draſt and a work in progress.
  3. 3. First things first: Who’s behind this?
  4. 4. Peter Bihr The Waving Cat: Managing Director Research, strategy, foresight for commercial, governmental & non-profit organizations. ThingsCon: Co-founder, Chairman A global community of IoT practitioners with the mission to foster the creation of a responsible & human-centric IoT. Mozilla: Fellow As a Mozilla IoT Fellow, I’ll be developing a trustmark for IoT. The prototype will focus on voice-enabled IoT. Contact Email: Twitter: @peterbihr Web: Web: Web:
  5. 5. A Trustmark for IoT I co-founded the ThingsCon network to explore how to create IoT products responsibly. This, and the research that led to our research report for Mozilla (“A Trustmark for IoT”), led me to pursue this project—within the ThingsCon network and with support from Mozilla through a Mozilla IoT Fellowship. Please note: This project is supported by but independent from Mozilla—I do not speak for Mozilla. Read the report at
  6. 6. For a human-centric & responsible Internet of Things A global community & event platform by and for IoT practitioners
  7. 7. Our theory of change: Change is made through better day-to-day decisions
  8. 8. IoT - an overview & why we need a trustmark TL;DR: The Internet of Things increasingly touches all aspects of our lives, but mostly it consists of black boxes. We need to make sure that we can trust them. Note: The next few slides will elaborate on this. If you’re familiar with IoT, feel free to skip to the next section.
  9. 9. Source: Flickr / The Waving Cat (CC BY) The term Internet of Things (IoT) covers a wide field of applications
  10. 10. Images: Stephen di Donato (Unsplash), Andrew Welch (Unsplash) Connected Home Smart
 City Two areas that manifest underlying issues of IoT Challenges our traditional notions of privacy* * In the West, in the last 150 years or so In public space, there is no opt-out (of data collection, urban analytics, etc.)
  11. 11. IoT lacks transparency The Internet of Things with its dizzying array of connected products and services is hard to navigate. Consumers have little insight into how any one connected product works, what it even might be capable of, or if the company employs good, responsible data practices. This is not an oversight on the consumers' side: We lack the tools to find out.
  12. 12. Quelle: The Waving Cat (CC BY) A simple litmus test: 4 questions that we should be able to answer for every connected device. But for connected products, these are very hard questions to answer.
  13. 13. We need to model less for efficiency and more for resilience. One part of that is increasing transparency of connected systems. Photo: Peter Bi hr (CC BY-NC-SA)
  14. 14. A Trustmark for IoT Concept draft. Feedback welcome!
  15. 15. Methodological notes This trustmark concept is based on three main pillars: The values we believe in and promote within ThingsCon, namely the creation of a responsible IoT, respect for users and their privacy and other rights, inclusivity and diversity, and openness. The research we published with the 2017 report “A Trustmark for IoT” of existing approaches to consumer protection labels, trustmarks, and certifications. Conversations within the ThingsCon community of IoT practitioners, as well as throughout the industry in my other role as managing director of a research & strategy firm.
  16. 16. Goals The trustmark we’re proposing is aspirational and aims to raise the bar at the top of the pyramid: This is modeled not just to filter out crap but to raise the overall bar of the conversation, and to show that IoT can be done respectfully & responsibly. Let me be clear: This is a work driven by values, not pragmatism—because I believe this needs to exist in order to get to a better IoT, and a better society. We believe that good ethics are good for business. This is also the angle we’ll take when pitching the trustmark to potential industry partners. Read my first thoughts on the trustmark on
  17. 17. Early feedback & successes Our 2017 trustmark research has received great feedback and reach. Among other things it was quoted extensively in Brazil’s National IoT Plan. Now we want to put our research into action.
  18. 18. (A note on how to read this document) In some slides you’ll find a lock item in the corner. The closed lock means this part is locked in (within reason). The open lock means this part is still under discussion. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  19. 19. Why? To recap, we need a trustmark for IoT… • to empower consumers to make informed decisions. • to allow for responsible organizations to clearly communicate their commitment to a higher standard.
  20. 20. Why should we sign up? As an company that makes connected products, why should we adopt the trustmark? • This trustmark aims to highlight the work of the most responsible companies and to clearly communicate their commitment to a higher standard. • The trustmark increases consumer trust. It is for a highly selective group of companies that go the extra mile to earn their customers’ trust is committed to exemplary levels of transparency, openness and responsibility. • As a secondary effect, the trustmark will attract talent: We believe that only the best companies attract the best talent, and strong vision & values are a key aspect.
  21. 21. What We’re proposing a trustmark for IoT that increases transparency and empowers consumers to make better decisions. This trustmark… • evaluates 5 key dimensions • is pledge-based • builds on verification through publicly available documentation • (mostly) decentralized It takes a holistic approach that goes beyond just the device and includes procedural and organizational aspects. The prototype phase will focus on voice- enabled IoT (smart speakers, etc.) Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  22. 22. Dimensions The trustmark evaluates compliance with 5 dimensions that we identified in our initial research* as most crucial for consumers: • Privacy & Data Practices • Transparency • Security • Openness • Stability Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC) *See A Trustmark for IoT (2017), p. 56
  23. 23. Pledge-based The trustmark is pledge-based, i.e. based on voluntary commitment & self- reported information. Why? • To gain critical mass, lightweight and easy-to-adopt beats hard verification. • As a rule of thumb, (more costly) certification based on third-party audits tend to provide higher credibility, but we believe that our approach of transparency through documentation offers both carrot (USP) and stick (public shaming). • Certification requires a level of centralization we aim to avoid. (Exception: We might need a governing body of sorts at a later stage.) Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  24. 24. Verification through documentation The trustmark should convey at a glance the level of trustworthiness and allow to get more detailed information to back this up. The approach of "self-assessed but verifiable" opens up trustmark-carrying products to public scrutiny in a similar way that open source software can be peer reviewed. Compliance with the trustmark is proven by providing publicly available documentation to answer (in a structured way) the questions that determine a product's compliance. A company is required to make this information available and easily accessible/findable on their website (/iot-trustmark or comparable, details TBD). Why? • While we cannot enforce that all information provided this way is accurate, the stick (scrutiny and risk of public shaming/campaigning) outweighs the advantages of faking compliance. • In the meantime it's significantly easier, cheaper, and quicker to provide this kind of documentation over an external audit. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  25. 25. Decentralized The documentation and pledge based approach also means the trustmark is largely decentralized: Application to and of this trustmark is done by each company independently from a centralized authority. (We are looking into options to make this legally binding through a licensing model.) Applying the trustmark will always be free of charge. Eventually we’ll need a governance system. For the purposes of prototyping, I’ll be making final decisions based on input from research, workshops, and the ThingsCon network in particular. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  26. 26. The foundations of an ecosystem The knowledge encoded in this trustmark—through documentation, etc.—serves as the foundation of what we hope to be a larger ecosystem. The trustmark documentation shall be provided in a standardized form to allow for third parties to offer services on top of this foundation, like editorials, ratings & reviews. Note: This is our goal; year 1 serves to learn and prototype, and to develop the concept to a stage of maturity that gets this launch-ready. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  27. 27. How We plan the trustmark to evaluate a product’s compliance through a scorecard or checklist of questions to be answered and documents to be provided. Each of them feeds into one of the five dimensions: 5 dimensions x 5 compliance points for a possible total of 25 points. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  28. 28. Inputs, processes, outputs The trustmark will evaluate a mix of • Inputs: What goes into making a product? 
 In the textile world, Bluesign is a trustmark that demonstrates that an apparel manufacturer uses sustainable, eco-friendly materials • Processes: How is a product made?
 Fairtrade with their strong focus on sustainable farming practices and good labor conditions • Outputs: What is the product like when it’s finished?
 CE certification confirms that the final product fulfills certain EU quality and safety requirements
  29. 29. Format & Examples We’re drafting the checklist of questions to answer, and documents to provide to pass the trustmark. We expect a mix of types of input: • First-party indicators, i.e. questions answered directly by the company. For example, “Do you follow Security by Design best practices? Please elaborate.” or “Do you have a business model in place that carries you beyond investments? Please elaborate.” • Third-party certifications and standards can serve as an indicator of quality. For example, if a company open-sources their hardware according to OSHWA’s guidelines, this might count into the openness score. If a product is GDPR compatible (and hence guarantees data portability as well as privacy by design) this might count into the privacy score.. Some of this will be fuzzy. We’ll be prototyping how to allow for that. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  30. 30. Format & Examples The format for the checklist is standardized as checkbox [Yes/No/Not Applicable) plus a text field to elaborate. If the answer is Yes or Not Applicable then the text field must be filled in. (No always means 0 points.) Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC) The evolving checklist is available for review and input (via comments) here. Some example questions. This checklist partially builds on the “Open #iotmark principles” (, CC BY-SA 4.0).
  31. 31. Format & Examples This is a deep dive into the product and how its made, and it requires a high willingness to open up and be transparent. But all questions inquire into aspects the product team needs to consider anyway, and this isa good opportunity to be explicit about the decisions that go into making the product. While undergoing the trustmark process means some extra work, it is work that is very closely aligned with the product development process. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  32. 32. Scoring The passing requirements are to fulfill two conditions: • No complete FAIL (0 points) in any dimension • At least 20/25 points total Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  33. 33. Example This examples FAILS the test: • It does not score 20/25 points. Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  34. 34. Example This examples FAILS the test: • A complete failure (0 points) in one dimension (Security). Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  35. 35. Example This examples PASSES the test: • It scores 20/25 points total. • No dimension fails (0 points) Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  36. 36. Example This examples PASSES the test: • It scores >20/25 points total. • No dimension fails (0 points) Note: It’s still up for debate if the requirement is • “≥20/25” or • “minimum 4/5 per dimension” Icon: Lock by Ralf Schmitzer from the Noun Project (CC)
  37. 37. Open questions & next steps • What aspects need to be evaluated through the checklist/ questionnaire (template for documentation)? • How can we make a pledge legally binding? • Gather feedback, run prototyping sessions, and fine-tune the concept.
  38. 38. Mood Board What could the trustmark look like, and how can it communicate levels of trustworthiness effectively? Some examples from other projects we liked in our research: FCC: Broadband 
 (all rights reserved) Creative Commons licensing Bihr/Thorne: Privacy Icons
 (CC BY-NC) Beyond IO: Washing instructions for IoT
 (all rights reserved) Adryan: Data Labels
 (all rights reserved)
  39. 39. Pathways to partnerships & participation This is a project in an early stage. We’re looking in a number of areas. Particularly we’re looking for… • academic partners to accompany the development of this trustmark • bold commercial partners to help us prototype our requirements list against their existing or upcoming products • non-profit and media partners who can help us understand what they need in order to build third-party offerings on top of a trustmark Please get in touch if you’d like to get involved.
  40. 40. Thank you. The Waving Cat GmbH Twitter @thewavingcat Web Peter Bihr Twitter @peterbihr Email Contact ThingsCon Twitter @thingscon Web
  41. 41. FAQ Some questions that have been coming up frequently: • Why isn’t sustainability and manufacturing conditions a larger part of this? Sustainability is out of scope because it’s not our core area of expertise. We believe others can tackle this issue more effectively. • Is this trustmark Mozilla endorsed? Mozilla supports the independent development of the trustmark under the ThingsCon umbrella by inviting Peter Bihr to be a Mozilla Fellow. • How is this different from certification or trustmark initiative XYZ and how do you position your efforts in relation to it? We believe in diverse voices, and are open for collaborations. That said, we don’t believe any organization (including ourselves) has solved this yet.