Most people are worried that connected devices are invading their privacy, according to a survey from Consumers International and the Internet Society. According to the survey, 73% of consumers think that consumers who use connected devices should be concerned about eavesdropping, while 63% reported that they find smart home devices “creepy” in their data collection methods. Despite these concerns, 69% of the survey’s respondents said they owned connected devices.
While Consumers International is a global membership for consumer groups representing over 100 countries, the Internet Society is a non-profit dedicating to keeping the Internet safe, secure, and universally accessible. The survey, conducted in the U.S, U.K, Canada, Australia, France, and Japan, was announced on May 1st at the Consumers International Summit 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Internet Society wants to change how connected devices are designed from the ground up. Currently, security is an afterthought instead of an integral part of the design of connected devices, according to Steve Olshansky, the Internet Society’s Internet Technology Program Manager. In an interview with Security Baron, Olshansky said,
“All too often manufacturers view security and privacy as things they can bolt on, but it needs to be part of the design process from the beginning.”
In the meantime, consumers should become more informed on the security of connected devices and demand changes from manufacturers. Consumers are “viewing privacy as an inconvenience because they want the products,” choosing to focus on features and functionality instead of privacy, Olshansky said when he spoke to Security Baron. Many people are also unaware of the insecurity of connected devices.
Alexa, Where’s My Privacy?
Recently, it was found out that Amazon workers listen to hours of customers speaking to Alexa. Despite this, Alexa is still the most trusted smart home platform, according to an ExpressVPN survey. Despite the growing popularity of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, consumers have privacy concerns, with 35% of the survey’s respondents saying they would return a device if they learned it was listening to their conversations.
What About Regulations?
Following the Amazon scandal, California assemblyman Jordan Cunningham proposed a bill entitled the “Anti-Eavesdropping Act” which has earned bipartisan support. The bill would require that companies get explicit and affirmative from customers before storing their voice recordings. The bill was passed by the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection and is moving on the Assembly appropriations committee.
However, given that government regulation is typically a long-term process, Olshansky does not see this as a route to improve the security of connected devices, he told Security Baron. Rather than state or federal regulations, he proposes that manufacturers regulate themselves, and if not, consumers should start demanding safer connected devices.