Commentary

59% Of IoT Gadget Makers Don't Tell Consumers How Their Personal Info Is Used

It’s no secret that marketers are looking forward to obtaining more consumer information that flows from the explosion of Internet-connected devices being placed throughout homes, in cars and on people.

Many smart devices come with plenty of information-sharing built in as part of their core.

The challenge comes in making sure consumers are aware of what information is being stored or shared and how to slow, stop or delete it if desired.

Many consumers have become accustomed to tapping ‘agree’ when asked if they’re OK with various terms after downloading something. It’s not necessarily fine print, but there typically sure is a lot of reading that many people just bypass to get to what they want to do.

It turns out that there are a number of issue around IoT privacy, based on new worldwide study of connected devices.

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A test of 314 devices in the fourth annual Global Privacy Enforcement Network privacy sweep found that the majority of companies marketing the devices collect plenty of information but don’t make it clear how consumers can get rid of information stored on them or how that information is being safeguarded.

Researchers examined different connected devices, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, smart scales, connected toys, connected cars and smart TVs. Here are some global highlights:

  • 72% did not clearly tell users if or how they could delete information off the device
  • 68% did not inform users about how their personal information was being safeguarded
  • 68% collect location information
  • 64% collect date of birth
  • 59% did not adequately explain how personal information is collected, used and disclosed
  • 48% did not indicate whether personal information would be shared with other companies

The focus of the study was to look at how organizations communicate their personal information handling practices.

As anticipated, there were differences found by country with privacy laws varying by geography.

For example, 71% of devices used by Australians did not provide a privacy policy and notices to adequately explain how personal information is handled. The Australian segment of the report found:

  • 93% did not clearly tell users if or how they could delete information remotely if the device was lost or stolen
  • 91% did not advise customers to customize their privacy settings
  • 89% did not clearly indicate whether there were tools a user could access to delete personal information off the device so they could re-sell it
  • 71% failed to properly explain how information was stored

Much of the future success within the Internet of Things will reside less in the technical aspects and more in everything that surrounds them.

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