IoT gathers pace despite privacy concerns: Research

Tuesday, January 06, 2015
[PHOTO: Michael Coghlan/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]
San Francisco: The Internet of Things (IoT) will remain a trending topic in 2015, as 35% of online US consumers now own at least one smart device other than a smart phone according to new research released by TRUSTe. The most popular devices are smart TVs (20%), in-car navigation systems (12%), followed by fitness bands (5%) and home alarm systems (4%).

While the number of connected devices available on the market continues to grow, so does the amount of data being collected.  The research shows that 79% of US consumers are concerned about the idea of their personal information collected by smart devices and 69% believe they should own the personal data collected by using their smart devices, raising even more questions about consumer privacy concerns in the big data era. Only 20% think that the benefits of owning a smart device outweigh any privacy concerns about the data they may collect. Interestingly, 82% are not aware of the term 'Internet of Things,' which implies that Internet of Things is a term used by tech industry enthusiasts, but which has low consumer awareness.

The 'TRUSTe Internet of Things Privacy Index 2015 – US edition' was conducted by Ipsos MORI, with 1,000 consumers aged 18-75 in the United States between November 28 and December 5 2014 on behalf of TRUSTe, a Data Privacy Management firm. The findings from this research reveal the growing debate between the technological benefits of the Internet of Things versus the privacy implications of the personal data collected and who has the rights to own and access that data. As the Internet of Things will again be a main focus at Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, questions over privacy and ownership of the data collected will remain important themes at the show.

"The Internet of Things market continues to gain traction as many consumers are embracing the convenience and benefits of connected devices," said Chris Babel, CEO, TRUSTe. "However, privacy questions over the personal data being collected, including who has access and ownership of this data is still a major concern for consumers and a big question that the industry must address moving forward."

"We look forward to tackling these issues at the 2nd annual Internet of Things Privacy Summit in June in Silicon Valley, and we welcome privacy and IoT experts from across the globe to attend, speak and join the discussion. We hope to work towards answering some of these questions and creating a plan of action for the industry as the IoT market continues to grow."

Detailed findings from 2015 U.S. Internet of Things Privacy Index:

The research found that 79% of consumers are concerned about the idea of their personal data being collected through smart devices, while 69% believed they should own any such data being collected. More than 1 in 4 (27%) mentioned concerns about the security or privacy of the data collected as a reason why they did not currently own a smart device. Other reasons given were:

    * 55% thought smart devices were too expensive
    * 42% did not see the point of owning a smart device
    * 21% did not know enough about smart devices 

When asked how concerned they were about specific privacy and security issues that smart devices connected to the internet can lead to, consumers showed strong concerns over the use and control of their personal data with the highest concern being personal information collected and used in ways they were unaware (87%) followed by identity theft (86%), the concern that their device would be infected by malware (86%) and concern that their location might be revealed without their knowledge (78%).
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