Data Sharing and Collection Practices Lead Users to Feel Smart Devices Are ‘Creepy,’ Survey Finds

Data privacy and security issues increase consumers’ lack of trust in smart devices. More than half of consumers think the data collection process used by connected devices makes them “creepy” and 75 percent don’t trust the way their data is handled and possibly shared with third parties, according to a survey conducted by Ipsos MORI for the Internet Society and Consumers International.

“The survey results underscore the need for IoT manufacturers to build their devices with security and privacy in mind,” said Internet Society President and CEO Andrew Sullivan. “Security should not be an afterthought. It’s clear that manufacturers and retailers need to do more so that consumers can trust their IoT devices.”

Some 73 percent of consumers in the survey, which included 1,000 respondents from the US, Canada, Japan, Australia, France and the UK, worry hackers will manipulate their smart devices that have microphones to eavesdrop on their conversations. In fact, 28 percent of the respondents don’t even own a smart device and don’t plan to buy one in the near future because of security and privacy concerns. The highest number of people who don’t own any connected devices is in Japan (46%).

A general scare surrounds technology, not only smart devices. For example, 69 percent of users expressed concern about mobile banking and health applications, but were more easy going about tablets and laptops.

The consumers most anxious about data security are those in the US (70%), while those in France (60%) and Japan (52%) are the most relaxed about data collection and sharing.

The survey shows most respondents own one or more smart devices, including connected meters, fitness trackers, connected toys, home assistants or gaming consoles.

“Consumers have told us they accept that they have some responsibility for the security and privacy of their IoT products but that isn’t the end of the story,” said Helena Leurent, Director General, Consumers International. “They, and we, want to see tangible action from manufacturers, retailers, and governments on this issue. It has to be a collective effort, not the responsibility of one group. We are exploring this conversation with progressive manufacturers. Together we are looking at the opportunity to create person-centred technology, that people not only enjoy using but feel safe and secure doing so. By doing this business can address the concerns of those not engaging with this tech and open up the benefits of the Internet of Things to everyone.”

Companies that haven’t yet addressed IoT security and privacy concerns to convince their customers that their data is safe and handled responsibly had better start. Overall distrust in the IoT environment affects buying decisions and business profits.


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