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Facebook’s Privacy Breach of Trust – What Does It Have to Do with Commercial & Corporate Real Estate?

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For the last 15+ years, Realcomm has been actively involved in the conversation around the next generation of Smart, Connected, High-Performance, Intelligent Buildings. This is quite different from traditional building automation, which advocated for single systems, single vendors, and single buildings – with little to no attention being paid to open architected, interoperable or IP-centric functionality.

Enter the newest phase of smart buildings: the Internet of Things; and for smart buildings in our industry, the Building Internet of Things (BIoT). This is the next step into full connectivity which advocates for every device, from the fire extinguisher to the parking gate being connected to the network. With every electrical mechanical device in a building now on a network, there is a heightened possibility of a cyber breach and a subsequent violation of privacy.

The example we have shared before is easily imagined: a manufacturer develops a lighting system that has multiple sensors including a microphone, initially designed to allow someone to turn on the lights using a voice command. (This is something already underway in the consumer world through products such as Siri, Alexa and Google Home.) That system is installed by an integrator, via the recommendation of a consultant with the supervision of a service provider. The device sits on the tenant’s network but uses the Landlord’s building network to access the Internet. Finally, during a critical Board of Directors meeting, the device is breached, and a major competitor listens to extremely confidential information, gaining a competitive advantage which hurts the company financially. In this case, who is responsible?

While this example is quite different from the Facebook privacy issues we are all hearing about in the news, they both have to do with gaining information via technology without the awareness or consent of the user. Facebook’s data acquisition efforts and subsequent analytics by Cambridge Analytica are in some cases much worse because of the size, scope and potential impact of the breach of trust. However, they are both serious breaches and deserve careful consideration of short- and long-term unintended consequences.

We have been following this privacy issue for a long time and feel it is important to revisit the various Advisories we have written on the topic, which started back in 2003. We encourage you to become involved and informed on the topic of privacy and the impacts it has to both real estate information management systems as well as smart, connected, high-performance, intelligent buildings:

03/26/2003     Commercial Real Estate Lawyers Form Technology Task Force!

07/21/2004      Realcomm 2004 Trends - Commercial Real Estate Law

12/18/2008      The DNA of Tomorrow’s Buildings

09/09/2010      Technology and Privacy – Efficient, Safe, Fun World or Orwellian Nightmare?

09/26/2013      Google Glass and the Potential Impact to Commercial Real Estate

02/13/2014      Is it True... is Corporate America Only Using 35% of its Office Space?

04/03/2014      The Use of Drones in Commercial & Corporate Real Estate Operations

10/01/2015      Technology + Innovation + Millennials – What’s Next For the Workplace?

11/12/2015      The Vulnerable Intelligent Building: An Insider’s Approach to Securing Your Smart Building

03/10/2016      Smart, Connected Campuses – Silicon Valley Could Rewrite the Rules

04/25/2016      Digital Privacy vs. Convenience – Is the Debate Dead or Just Getting Started?

05/17/2016      Artificial Intelligence and Buildings – What Does the Future Look Like?

02/15/2017      Is Your Smart Building Spying on You?

07/19/2017      Designing Technology Solutions for The Perpetually Evolving Workplace

01/25/2018      The Legal Implications of Commercial & Corporate Real Estate Digital Transformation

Privacy is a hot topic and will be featured in various sessions at Realcomm | IBcon 2018 which will be held on June 6-7 (Precon: June 5) at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. For more information, visit Program Details: Realcomm | IBcon

Jim Young, Co-Founder & CEO, Realcomm
Founder of Realcomm Conference Group, an education organization that produces Realcomm, IBcon and CoRE Tech, the world's leading conferences on technology, automated business solutions, intelligent buildings and energy efficiency for the commercial and corporate real estate industry. As CEO, Jim interacts with the largest companies globally pertaining to some of the most advanced and progressive next generation real estate projects under development.

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