Only Half of British Internet Users Know Smart Devices Can Collect Information About Their Personal Activities

It is predicted that there will be 26 billion connected devices by 2020, however only half (47%) of British internet users know that smart devices such as smart TVs, fitness devices and in-car navigation systems can collect data about their personal activities.

Being told this was the case, users would want to understand (83%) and be able to control (87%) the data being collected before purchasing or using smart devices. Just 18% agreed that the benefits of smart devices outweighed any privacy concerns, and only 7% would be comfortable with advertising companies accessing this data.

The ‘TRUSTe Internet of Things Privacy Index – GB Edition‘, was conducted online by Ipsos MORI, with 2,005 GB internet users aged 16-75 behalf of TRUSTe, the leading global data privacy management company. This research follows publication of the first in a series of reports on the Internet of Things (IoT) from the Pew Research Institute and close examination of the issue by regulators at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who held a workshop last November and the European Commission who published a study last year.

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 need to 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.”

Detailed findings from 2014 GB Internet of Things Privacy Index:

The research found that only half (47%) of internet users know that smart devices such as smart TVs, fitness devices and in-car navigation systems could collect data about their personal activities.

On being told that this was the case:

  • 83% agreed that they would want to understand more about data being collected before using smart devices
  • 87% agreed that they would want to control the data being collected through smart devices before purchasing or using a device
  • 84% were concerned about the idea of personal information being collected by smart devices
  • 84% are concerned about the type of personal information collected through smart devices

Comfort levels varied significantly depending on who might be able to access the data. Only just over half (54%) were comfortable with their partner being able to access the data from smart devices. This figure dropped to 13% when asked if they would be comfortable for data to be shared with the government or their boss. Just 7% 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 IoT market as only 19% of respondents agreed that the benefits of smart devices out-weighed any privacy concerns.

In 2012, TRUSTe and the Future of Privacy Forum launched TRUSTed Smart Grid, one of the first privacy solutions specifically designed for the IoT era.  The TRUSTed Smart Grid privacy program assesses and certifies the privacy practices of third-party companies that require access to Customer Energy Usage Data (CEUD) to power “smart” services and products, convincing utilities and customers that they can trust those companies with their energy usage data.

On 10 July, TRUSTe will host the first event dedicated to the privacy challenges of the Internet of Things at the Rosewood Hotel, Silicon Valley. The Internet of Things Privacy Summit is an opportunity for privacy experts, policy makers and innovators to define the privacy needs of the new inter-connected world and scope out the next generation of solutions.

Speakers include: Michelle Dennedy, CPO McAfee; Barbara Lawler, CPO Intuit; Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director, Future of Privacy Forum; Eduardo Ustaran, IAPP Board of Directors and more to be announced soon.

Jules Polonetsky, Co-founder, Future of Privacy Forum said:

“The findings of the TRUSTe privacy survey are well-timed to help foster a critical dialogue about the need to align privacy considerations with the massive impact of connected devices in our lives. The challenge that all stakeholders must address is to encourage practices that support tech progress and innovation, while providing appropriate controls, choice, transparency and information to connected consumers. It’s all about striking the right balance between fueling the evolution of innovation and addressing privacy and security considerations on a parallel track.”

Eduardo Ustaran, IAPP Board of Directors and Author of “The Future of Privacy” said:

“Given the global reach of the strict European privacy rules, it is essential that we figure out how to meet the legal requirements without compromising innovation.”

To register for the Internet of Things Privacy Summit, visit

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