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The Internet of Things and challenges for consumer protection

11 April 2016

Consumers International has today launched a new report: ‘Connection and Protection in the Digital Age: The Internet of Things and challenges for consumer protection’. 

The report looks at current and future applications of smart and Internet of Things technologies; the risks and opportunities for consumers; and the extent to which existing consumer protection frameworks are able to address and remedy potential problems.

Case studies and examples from high income countries are supplemented by primary research from consumer organisations in Kenya, Nigeria and the Philippines into developments, opportunities and detriments in their countries. 

The research shows that while the benefits of greater connections are showing potential, many of the problems for consumers in the Internet of Things are no longer theoretical. Challenges to conventional ownership expectations, lack of consumer choice and provider lock-in already exist in the infancy of the Internet of Things.

Unless there is a clear and balanced picture in which the emerging risks are understood and mitigated through appropriate protections, any potential benefits will be undermined. 

As the Internet of Things starts to permeate into the mainstream, there is a need to address critical issues now, to prevent these taking root and becoming the norm.

It is crucial that all those charged with advancing the consumer interest take the opportunity to act now to collectively uphold consumer rights.

This research was supported by the Open Society Foundation.

Download the report and briefing.