the internet of things

Connections between devices and objects, ‘the Internet of Things’ (IoT), is rapidly expanding. Technology such as sensors are embedded in more and more everyday things like cars, utility meters, white goods, wearable fitness trackers or home security systems. This makes objects capable of sensing and remotely communicating with each other, with users or with a central system – for any purpose.

A Global Consensus on 5 Security "Must Haves" for Consumer IoT

Consumers of smart and connected devices should be able to enjoy their experiences without having to worry about data security and safety issues. However, many Internet of Things (IoT) products lack a basic standard of trust, privacy, security, and transparency that protects all consumers. 

Through the World Economic Forum’s Future of the Connected World, influential consumer, hacker, and industry groups representing over 400 organisations have joined forces to build consensus on the security of consumer IoT devices.


World Economic Forum – “Roadmap for Global Action” report launch

In April 2021, Consumers International contributed to the “Roadmap for Global Action” published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). This provided a great opportunity to demonstrate how we can build towards a connected future that is more sustainable, resilient, and equitable for all through five key actions. We are proud to have represented the consumer voice highlighting the importance of “trust” in connected devices and systems.


World Economic Forum ‘Future of the Connected World’ report launch

In December 2020 Consumers International took part in the World Economic Forum (WEF) launch for the ‘Future of the Connected World’ report and related action plan. This was a fantastic opportunity to highlight the need to protect consumers and to accelerate change towards a safer, more inclusive connected world. As part of the launch, we were delighted that our member Consumer Reports’ Digital Standard was featured as one of the select initial initiatives highlighted on the ‘Future of the Connected World’ website.




Cybersecurity – global action from consumer advocacy

In 2020, we welcomed the beginnings of a dialogue with Cybersecurity Tech Accord and their signatories, as they launched new resources to support consumers with keeping their Internet of Things devices secure. Cybersecurity is a significant and urgent consumer issue, especially during COVID-19 when even more consumers are reliant on safe and secure online connections. The resources highlight the work of the consumer movement - including Euroconsumers and Consumer Reports - to push for the strongest cybersecurity responses from governments and manufacturers, as well as clear and actionable security guidance for consumers.



Trust by Design Principles and Guidelines for consumer IoT

Consumers International launched a new set of guidelines and principles in 2019, to help manufacturers create safe and trusted smart devices for consumers, sometimes known as the consumer internet of things  (CIoT).

The Trust by Design principles and guidelines set out requirements across six areas to ensure the security, privacy, transparency, user-friendliness and ethical nature of smart products.  These guidelines were developed with consumer organisations, CIoT manufacturers, and with the support of Vodafone, to create relevant materials designed for anyone wanting to build safe and trusted IoT for consumers. 

In addition to helping developers comply with existing regulatory requirements, the Trust by Design principles and guidelines provide useful, practical guidance to manufacturers, with case studies and checklists to encourage implementation across the CIoT landscape.


The Trust Opportunity: Exploring Consumers’ Attitudes to the Internet Of Things

This new research from Consumers International and the Internet Society explored consumer perceptions and attitudes towards trust, security and the privacy of consumer Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The survey of consumers in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, UK and the US aimed to find out what matters most to consumers when buying connected devices, and who is responsible for better privacy and security.

We found that 65% of consumers are concerned with the way connected devices collect data, and 75% of people distrust the way data is shared.


Consumers Society TV - The Buggle Baby Monitor

We have teamed up with the Internet Society to create a 90-second video, bringing to life some of the security issues with smart devices in the home. 

The video is part of a wider campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with connected products that fail the build in basic privacy and security features during the design stage. 


Securing consumer trust in the internet of things

With estimates that 20 billion devices are connected to the internet – a figure that’s set to double by 2022 – connected devices now outnumber people by nearly three to one. The Internet of Things has the potential to bring huge benefits to people around the world including: convenience, fixing products remotely and putting more responsive products on the market.

However, alongside the benefits, there are serious risks. Privacy and security, erosion of ownership and product lock-in are just some of the many areas of concern for consumers.

Together with ANEC, BEUC and ICRT, we have published a set of principles and recommendations that propose to make consumer rights, privacy, safety and security key features of the Internet of Things. Click below to download our principles in English.


To accompany the principles, our report ‘Testing Our Trust: Consumers and the Internet of Things 2017 Review’, looks at whether trends in IoT are playing out as predicted, how consumers are experiencing this new technology, and how policy makers, industry and advocates are responding to some of the challenges.


Connected Products and Services Retailer Checklist

Alongside our work to empower consumers on this issue, Consumers International is working with manufacturers, retailers, and regulators to create safer, and more privacy respecting products.

We have created a security and privacy checklist to help retailers of connected children’s products vet potential suppliers against a set of simple criteria to ensure that the IoT products they stock meet a basic standard of safety for its end user. The checklist is not intended as a replacement for mandatory or voluntary standards that are in development but is a useful tool while these are in development.

The checklist has been informed by technical experts in both system security, penetration testing and by Consumers International’s members work in digital standards, cybersecurity and product safety, principles for the internet of things and national governmental codes of practice.

Click below to download the checklist in English. You can also download it in Spanish here


Related materials

VIDEO: Huggybug your Family Today!

At the G20 Consumer Summit, Consumers International launched a 60-second spoof advert ‘Huggy Bug Your Family’, highlighting some of the problems found in internet-connected children’s products.


Joint Statement: Consumers International calls for COVID-19 response to focus on global consumer protection and empowerment

Consumers International members in 100 countries are calling for a focus on the protection and empowerment of individuals in the marketplace based on consumer rights, and for coordinated strategies across nations and intergovernmental bodies to build fair, safe, resilient and sustainable economies through consumer protection.



Data Goldrush: New research shows apps selling personal data without meaningful consent

The release of the Norwegian Consumer Council’s latest report ‘Out of Control’ has unearthed the extent to which ten widely used apps are sharing the personal data of their users with third parties, without meaningful consent. This information is being used to build profiles of consumers that can be used for targeted advertising, and may lead to discrimination and manipulation.