Lockmate;Prioritizing Consumer Privacy in the Age of IoT Data Collection – A Utilitarian Perspective

Rajuladevi, Rohit, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
White, Robert, University of Virginia

The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) has fundamentally altered how we interact with our surroundings, turning mundane fixtures into intelligent systems that promise increased efficiency and safety. The Lockmate project, a smart lock system developed for my Computer Engineering Capstone, embodies this technological transition, providing enhanced security through IoT integration. This paper aims to explore the intricate relationship between technological advancements in IoT and the sociotechnical challenges they pose, particularly focusing on the ethical dimensions of engineering practices. The motivation behind selecting this STS topic is rooted in the critical need to address the growing concerns over privacy and data security in the IoT domain. These concerns are central to the development of Lockmate, as they highlight the dual objectives of advancing technological capability while safeguarding user privacy.

Technical Project Overview
My capstone project was the development of Lockmate, a smart lock designed to tackle the prevalent issue of unlocked doors, which significantly heightens the risk of burglary. According to statistics from The ADT Corporation, 34 percent of burglars enter through the front door, underlining the critical need for enhanced security measures. Lockmate transforms traditional deadbolts by integrating smart capabilities, enabling doors to be locked or unlocked remotely through a mobile application. This innovation is particularly pertinent for users who may forget to secure their doors in their hurry to leave home.
Lockmate's design includes a microcontroller that processes system inputs and outputs, a WiFi module for network connectivity, and a motor that mechanically engages and disengages the lock based on commands. The entire mechanism is powered by a 9V battery, selected for its optimal balance between capacity and compact size, which is essential for residential use. All components are encased within a sleek, 3D-printed case that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Sociotechnical Analysis
The STS portion of my thesis delves into the expansive implications of IoT technologies on privacy and the ethical responsibilities inherent in engineering practices. As IoT devices, such as Lockmate, increasingly permeate personal spaces, they accumulate and process extensive data, raising significant privacy concerns and the potential for data breaches or unauthorized access. My research emphasizes the pressing ethical issues that accompany the integration of IoT devices into daily life, including the imperative for strong encryption methods, secure data handling protocols, and the implementation of user policies that prioritize transparency, privacy, and consent. This analysis is pivotal in highlighting the crucial role that ethical considerations play in the field of engineering, especially as it pertains to the development of technologies that not only push the envelope in terms of innovation but also diligently safeguard the rights and wellbeing of users. The thesis underscores the dual objectives of technological advancement and ethical responsibility, proposing a framework that balances innovation with stringent privacy protections.

Engaging in both the technical development of Lockmate and sociotechnical analysis has provided a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and responsibilities inherent in IoT innovations. This project illustrates the significant benefits of smart security systems, such as increased convenience and enhanced safety. However, it also emphasizes the imperative for engineers to address ethical concerns proactively, particularly those related to privacy and security. By navigating these challenges, future engineers can better balance innovation with ethical responsibility, ensuring that technological advancements contribute positively to society.
I would like to thank Prof. Richard Jacques for his support throughout both STS 4500 and STS 4600. Also, I would like to thank Robert White and Prof. Adam Barnes for advising our capstone project throughout the semester and always ensuring that we were on the right track. Finally, I want to thank my team members Alexandros Pfoser, Emil Ivanov, and Rory Gudka for all the effort that had to be put in to bring Lockmate to life.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Internet of Things, Digital Safety, Internet Privacy

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering

Technical Advisor: Robert White

STS Advisor: Richard Jacques

Capstone Team Members: Alexandros Pfoser, Emil Ivanov, Rory Gudka

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