Why we got started

What is it?

A global community-led effort to develop a consumer-facing certification mark for connected products, ie physical products (consumer or industrial) that take advantage of any communications technologies to function.

This may mean taking advantage of a recent wave of standards & compliance instruments to put them under the same umbrella to work towards the good of consumers and not just industry.


Definitions & assumptions

  • Connected products have a physical product, whether it is aimed at consumers or industry.
  • Connected products have digital information or ‘data’ as a driving mechanism or a by-product.
  • Connected products are created by an identifiable company or group of people who are responsible for its creation, manufacturing, distribution.
  • There are both customers who have paid for a product and consumers of connected products who derive benefit from a product someone else has purchased.


Why does it exist?

We would like to push the current and upcoming (GDPR) interpretations of consumer rights in the unregulated space of connected products (or internet of things). We consider the current technical standards that address this space too narrow in their focus and not aiming at the protection of consumers.

Currently, many connected products are badly designed or their creation, manufacturing and distribution badly managed. This is has consequences for consumers on different levels:

  • Customers are at risk because of security flaws at a hardware or software level.
  • Customers are at risk because of aggressive, often surreptitious, data-driven business models that have the ability to supercede and block access to a physical functionality.
  • Customers are given limited choices in buying connected products as most will currently suffer from:
    • short-lived production runs or limited duration service provision
    • high fail-rate of products
    • little customer service provided
    • limited repairability and as a consequence lead to an increase in e-waste.

We believe these problems are not insurmountable by making different and more ethical design choices we would like to encourage in industry.

As a general set of principles we would like to support more ethical design and manufacturing practices that take into account both the customer’s experience of the product and the data they contribute to.

The principles outlined in the certification mark will address issues that relate to:

  • Data security
  • Customer and consumer privacy
  • Data governance
  • Hardware & software security
  • Interoperability
  • Provenance
  • Lifecycle
  • Accountability in the supply chain


There are no natural market or regulatory dynamics (outside of the upcoming GDPR, which addresses a limited set of these issues) currently addressing a larger set of these issues.

We do not think we will be able to interest every type of connected product company in applying for use of the mark, but we believe it is the right approach for future connected products in general.


What is it trying to achieve?

  • To offer industry an instrument to support and encourage more ethical data, product, service & manufacturing practices.
  • To provide a mechanism for industry to champion their commitment to consumer and data protection rights in connected products.
  • To enable consumers and customers to make metter purchasing decisions & help improve consumer literacy in understanding the constraints, opportunities and consequences of their use of IoT products.
  • Using best practices in software, hardware & product design (cradle to cradle, design for disassembly, open source, etc.), to have a more lateral approach than current industry technology standards.


How we got started?

We invited the London Internet of Things community to work together collaboratively on framing the mark, is mission and the body which will manage it moving forward.

On June 16th 2017 over 60 participants from across the UK & Europe were invited to look writing a certification mark. We worked over a day, hosted by Alasdair Davies of the London Zoo and collaboratively edited a document (archive) which we consider a first draft.

Fox Williams lawyers Rosie Burbidge and Josey Bright were on site that day and will be helping support the mark as the language around it is finalised.


People present on June 16th 2017 included:

  • Chris Adams (Germany)
  • Boris Adryan (Germany)
  • Alasdair Allan (UK)
  • Thomas Amberg (Switzerland)
  • Alessandro Bassi (Italy)
  • Eszter Bircsak (UK)
  • Peter Bihr (Germany)
  • Rosie Burbidge (UK)
  • Lina Castaneda
  • Mark Carney (UK)
  • Rick Chandler (UK)
  • Andrew Chetty (UK)
  • Alasdair Davies (UK)
  • Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (UK)
  • Dries de Roeck (Belgium)
  • Martin Dittus (Germany)
  • Stefan Ferber (Germany)
  • Andrea Gaglione (UK)
  • Alex Gluhak (UK)
  • Janet Gunter (UK)
  • Usman Haque (UK)
  • Chris Holgate (UK)
  • Laura James (UK)
  • Nuno Job (UK)
  • Gerd Kortuem (Netherlands)
  • Max Kruger (Germany)
  • Albrecht Kurze (Germany)
  • Matthew Macdonald-Wallace (UK)
  • Graham Markall (UK)
  • Selena Nemorin (UK)
  • John Nussey (UK)
  • Jen Persson (UK)
  • Safia Qureshi (UK)
  • Peter Robinson (UK)
  • Gérald Santucci (Belgium)
  • Mark Simpkins (UK)
  • Iskander Smit (Netherlands)
  • Andy Stanford-Clark (UK)
  • Gavin Starks (UK)
  • Ling Tan (UK)
  • Rob Van Kranenburg (Belgium)
  • Bon ven Luijt (Netherlands)
  • Gill Wildman (UK)


What’s next?

Our next deadlines are October 15th 2017 to finalise the language for each working group and December 16th 2017 to apply to register the mark.

If you’re interested in supporting this effort, please email Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino or Usman Haque or join our Slack conversation or sign up to our newsletter updates.

We’re based in London, UK.