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Concerns Over Privacy and Security Contribute to Consumer Distrust in Connected Devices

01 May 2019

New research shows privacy, security are frequently key consumer concerns and drive buying decisions

73% of consumers think people using connected devices should worry about eavesdropping, and 63% think connected devices are “creepy” in the way they collect data about people and their behaviours.

Lisbon, Portugal – May 1, 2019 – 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. More than half (55%) do not trust their connected devices [1] to protect their privacy and a similar proportion (53%) do not trust connected devices to handle their information responsibly. 

The results of the survey were announced today 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.

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 [2]. 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 as broadly as much of a barrier than cost.

[1] For this research, we defined smart devices as everyday products and devices that can connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, such as smart meters, fitness monitors, connected toys, home assistants, or gaming consoles. The definition excluded tablets, mobile phones, and laptops.

[2] For example: https://www.forbrukerradet.no/side/significant-security-flaws-in-smartwatches-for-children/

The Trust Opportunity Exploring Consumer Attitudes to the Internet of Things Download report

Our view

Helena Leurent, Director General, Consumers International

“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. 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.”

Who should be accountable?

“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.