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Demonstrably doing accountability in the internet of things

Urquhart, Lachlan; Lodge, Tom; Crabtree, Andy

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Lachlan Urquhart

Tom Lodge


This article explores the importance of accountability to data protection (DP), and how it can be built into the Internet of Things (IoT). The need to build accountability into the IoT is motivated by the opaque nature of distributed data flows, inadequate consent mechanisms and lack of interfaces enabling end-user control over the behaviours of Internet-enabled devices. The lack of accountability precludes meaningful engagement by end users with their personal data and poses a key challenge to creating user trust in the IoT and the reciprocal development of the digital economy. The European Union General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (EU GDPR) seeks to remedy this particular problem by mandating that a rapidly developing technological ecosystem be made accountable. In doing so, it foregrounds new responsibilities for data controllers, including DP by design and default, and new data subject rights such as the right to data portability. While GDPR is ‘technologically neutral’, it is nevertheless anticipated that realizing the vision will turn upon effective technological development. Accordingly, this article examines the notion of accountability, how it has been translated into systems design recommendations for the IoT and how the IoT Databox puts key DP principles into practice.


Urquhart, L., Lodge, T., & Crabtree, A. (2018). Demonstrably doing accountability in the internet of things. International Journal of Law and Information Technology, 27(1), 1-27.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 19, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 24, 2018
Publication Date Dec 24, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 26, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 25, 2019
Journal International Journal Of Law And Information Technology
Print ISSN 0967-0769
Electronic ISSN 1464-3693
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Issue 1
Pages 1-27
Keywords Law; Library and Information Sciences
Public URL
Additional Information Attached file is accepted version of paper


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