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Who owns a device?

Who owns a device – the person who bought it? Who owns the software on a device? And who owns the data a device captures or generates?

The video highlights some of the more extreme potential issues around ownership and it is unlikely that a consumer will face all of those issues at the same time and with so little subtlety. However, there have been cases where these issues have cropped up.

One example is that of the Revolv smart home devices that were remotely disabled when the company that owned the digital services stopped supporting them (Hern 2019). Another case is that of the thermostats that stopped working properly because the owning company had more success than anticipated and their cloud services couldn’t cope with demand, leaving people unable to use their smart thermostats as they expected in the middle of winter (McCarthy 2016).

Your task

Can you find any other cases where consumers have found themselves with non-functioning products due to accidental or intentional actions by the supplier? Post any interesting examples in the comments.


Hern, A. (2019) ‘Revolv Devices Bricked as Google’s Nest Shuts Down Smart Home Company’. The Guardian [online] 4 February. available from [3 October 2019]

McCarthy, K. (2016) ‘Amid Polar Vortex… Honeywell Gets Frosty Reception after Remote Smart Thermostat Tech Freezes up for a Week’. The Register [online] 5 April. available from [3 October 2019]

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The Internet of Things: The Rise of Connected Devices

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