Fifty Billion Connected Devices Bring Tort, Software Law Clash

"The product liability challenge embedded in connected devices, which include everything from smart coffee pots and ovens to medical devices and cars, is “the collision between two traditional sets of legal questions,” law professor Andrea Matwyshyn of Northeastern University in Boston told Bloomberg BNA.

On the one hand we have “relatively established product liability law dealing with physical objects, where we've basically created a series of legal protections for consumers to enable them to have a minimum floor of functionality and safety,” she said.

And consumers have recourse in tort and contract law if something goes wrong, said Matwyshyn, a visiting research collaborator at the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy in New Jersey.

On the other hand is “this universe of end-user license agreements that govern in practice almost all the consumer's engagement with software and software-related products, where traditionally companies have disclaimed any and all responsibility for functionality, standards and liability risk,” she said.

“That world is now going to clash with the traditional world of physical products,” Matwyshyn said."