Internet Society and Consumers International raises concerns over privacy and security in connected devices

A survey conducted in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, France and the United Kingdom by IPSOS Mori on behalf of the Internet Society and Consumers International found that 65% of consumers are concerned with the way connected devices collect data. Over half (55%) do not trust their connected devices to protect their privacy and a similar proportion (53%) do not trust connected devices to handle their information responsibly.

Connected devices are everywhere and many people are willing to be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. 69% of those surveyed said they own connected devices, such as smart meters, fitness monitors, connected toys, home assistants, or gaming consoles.

However, testing by multiple consumers organizations has found a range of products are rushed to market with little consideration for basic security and privacy protections. The survey results show that 77% of consumers across markets said information about privacy and security are important considerations in their buying decisions and almost a third of people (28%) who don’t own a connected device don’t buy smart products because of these concerns. Consumers see this broadly as much of a barrier as cost.

Other results from survey participants show that 84% of Australians agree that manufacturers should only produce connected devices that protect privacy and security; 82% of Australians agree that retailers should ensure the connected devices they sell have good privacy and security standards; and 64% of Australians who actually own connected devices agree that they are “creepy” in the way they collect data about people and their behaviors.

The results of the survey were announced Wednesday at Consumers International Summit 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal, to an audience of consumer organizations from around the globe working together with representatives from business, civil society, and governments.

“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.”

Those surveyed also believe that accountability for connected device concerns should sit with regulators, manufacturers and retailers. 88% percent of survey respondents said that regulators should ensure IoT privacy and security standards, while 81% of people said manufacturers need to provide that assurance, and 80% said retailers must address privacy and security. 60% of participants across markets think consumers to be mainly responsible for the security and privacy of their connected devices.

“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. 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,” said Helena Leurent, Director General, Consumers International. “We are exploring this conversation with progressive manufacturers. Together we are looking at the opportunity to create person-centered 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.”

The Internet Society announced in January that it launched a working group to address the privacy and security risks in Internet of Things (IoT) devices in France.  As the annual winter sales shopping season in France begins tomorrow, the organization aims to raise awareness among consumers of weak security in many Internet-connected products.

The IoT Working Group is part of a broader effort by the Internet Society to raise awareness of the security risks inherent in the use of IoT-connected devices. The organization is encouraging manufacturers of consumer IoT devices to adopt “security by design” and build security into their products based on internationally agreed standards and best practices.

IoT Innovator Newsletter

Get the latest updates and industry news in your inbox! Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.