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Consumers 'creeped out' by IoT devices as distrust reigns supreme

03 May 2019

Are you creeped out by IoT devices like smart TVs, smart speakers, connected toys, smart fridges, security cameras and other internet-connected devices? 

It turns out you’re not alone, according to a new study from the Internet Society. In a poll of consumers from around the world, it found that well over half of them (63%) described their devices as ‘creepy’.

But why? It all comes down to privacy, security, and trust. According to the study, 53% of respondents don’t trust connected devices to respect people’s privacy and handle information in a respectful way. What’s more, 75% are worried that their data could be used by other organisations without their permission.

One of the easiest ways to solve the problem would be to stop using them – 28% of those surveyed who don’t own smart devices are put off from buying them because of those security concerns.

The problem is that connected devices are everywhere. Many forecasts predict that products will eventually be connected to the internet by default as they are engrained in everyday life.

About 60% of respondents think consumers should be responsible for both privacy and safety on their connected devices.

According to the study, 80% of people surveyed are aware of how to set and reset passwords and 68% of people are aware of automatic security updates from manufacturers. Knowledge of these features is essential for mitigating against hacks and lessening the impact of cyber attacks. 

However, a lot less is known about other settings in devices. Only 50% of consumers are aware of settings that control what data is collected and who it is shared with. What’s more, most people don’t know how to disable data collection on their connected device.

Device privacy and security is also the responsibility of manufacturers, and government. The survey results suggest that people are more actively thinking about the need for more formal market regulation.

A high number of people think that privacy and security standards should be assured by regulators (88%), followed by manufacturers (81%) and championed by retailers (80%). If they can prove that they are trustworthy, it becomes a win-win for their businesses and for consumers alike.

The study found that privacy and security play a huge role in the buying process, according to 77% of respondents.

“While there are many factors at play when it comes to consumer trust in connected devices, manufacturers and retailers can achieve significant impact by adopting IoT privacy and security standards. In doing so, trust becomes embedded in the design and sale of IoT devices; consumers can more confidently buy and enjoy safer IoT devices; and manufacturers and retailers can further differentiate as leading brands that proactively protect consumers’ best interests.”

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