Internet of Things crisis? Privacy issues could be barrier to smart-device take-up, says Ipsos Mori report

By Jessica Davies | News Editor

Ipsos Mori

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May 29, 2014 | 3 min read

Over half (53 per cent) of the UK population do not realise that smart devices can collect data about their personal activities, and only seven per cent of them would be comfortable with advertisers accessing this data, according to research from Ipsos Mori.

The ‘TRUSTe Internet of Things Privacy Index - GB Edition’ study, conducted across 2,005 UK internet users aged between 16 and 75 years old on behalf of data management company TRUSTe, predicted that 26 billion connected devices will be in the market by 2020.

The report classed connected devices as smart TVs, fitness devices, and in-car navigation systems, and revealed there a major education drive needed to ensure consumers are comfortable with the privacy and security implications of using smart devices.

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Of the 47 per cent of respondents who did understand that smart devices would gather their personal 83 per cent said they would want to understand what data was being collected, while 87 per cent said they would want to control the data, adding that they would hold off purchasing any smart items until they were reassured on these points.

Just 18 per cent agreed that the benefits of smart devices outweighed any privacy concerns.

Chris Babel, CEO, TRUSTe said: “The Internet of Things is a game-changing moment in our relationship with technology and personal data. We stand on the verge of a data explosion from interconnected devices that offers huge potential benefits to society and business opportunities - but as this research confirms, privacy concerns could be a potential barrier to growth.

“Companies must be honest and up front with consumers about the scale and type of data that’s being collected and how they can control its potential uses. We look forward to bringing together experts from across the industry at the Internet of Things Privacy Summit this July in Silicon Valley, to start to address these needs and scope out the next generation of privacy solutions.”

Comfort levels varied widely depending on who might be able to access the data. Just over half (54 per cent) of respondents were comfortable with their partner being able to access the data from smart devices.

This figure dropped to 13 per cent when asked if they would be comfortable for data to be shared with the government or their boss, while only 7 per cent were happy for the data from smart devices to be shared with advertising companies.

These privacy concerns could be a potential barrier to the growth of the Internet of Things market as only 18 per cent of respondents agreed that the benefits of smart devices out-weighed any privacy concerns, concluded the report.

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