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Many Value Privacy but Still Buy Smart Devices That Spy on Them

by Soft2share.com

Experts are concerned that many people are in an unhealthy relationship with technology companies. According to Rani Molla, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other makers of the most omnipresent technology track and share users’ private data and, thereby, jeopardize their privacy. Despite that, many people still buy these devices.

A recent survey by the Consumers International and the Internet Society shows that about 63 percent of individuals in the US, Canada, UK, France, Japan, and Australia consider connected devices “creepy.” At the same time, 75 percent do not trust the way those devices share their private information.

However, that has not changed their buying behavior. Approximately 70 percent of the participants said they own at least one connected device. Some of these are fitness monitors, gaming consoles, and smart home devices.

The study defined smart or connected devices are everyday products that connect to the Internet through Bluetooth or wifi. They include Amazon’s Echo speakers, treat dispenser/Furbo’s pet camera, and Google’s Nest smart lock, but it excludes computers, tablets, and mobile phones.
Marketing research company IDC provides that the sales of smart devices increased by 25 percent in 2018. Besides, it projected that for the next four years, the sales volume would double.

A study from Voicebot shows that people who are concerned about the privacy risks are only 16 percent less likely to buy smart speakers than others.

Experts have evaluated this trend and suggest that the following are the main reasons people give mixed signals.

Ignorance of the Extent of the Risk

The amount of data that these devices collect varies from one service to the next. Some of them, such as Google smart speakers, know your home, what you buy, your taste of music, and more. Others know who you are. Since most people do not read the terms of service, they are unable to figure out what their devices can see and share.

That is not all, though. Many people also find that the terms are difficult to understand. As such, unless you are an expert, you may never know how the system has exposed you to threats.

Worthwhile Trade-offs

Many consumers also consider that it is entirely right to pay a considerable price. Smart devices have a lot of utility that attracts them. For example, they may guarantee the security of their doors, conserve energy, monitor babies, and more.

With these features in mind, many consumers are concerned about their privacy. However, since they believe that convenience is king, nothing can stand in their way.

Lack of Alternatives

Most companies want you to believe that if you do not like one of their products, you are free to choose a better one. The problem is that whether you pick, for example, Amazon Echo speaker or Google Home, it will still collect the same category of private data about you. This is what Olshansky calls “misaligned incentives.” The customer is exposed to privacy breaches, but the maker of the smart device is safe.

While market forces can punish the company, the chances are low. The market needs to find credible information about the breaches for that to happen. Many such cases often go unreported or unnoticed. Therefore, consumers remain at the mercy of makers that are not privacy-conscious.

Consumers Put Confidence in the Government

Many people think that government regulations can protect them adequately. About 88 percent of respondents in the Consumers International and Internet Society survey think this way. At the same time, 80 percent think it is the responsibility of the manufacturer, and 60 percent suppose consumers are in charge of their security.

According to Coll, politicians are highly focused on smart device privacy regulation. However, it will take some time. Olshansky thinks that government agencies do not understand the policy and technology implications. As such, consumers’ wrong assumptions increase their vulnerability.

People Don’t Care About Their Privacy Enough

The value of smart devices relies on the beholder. Companies such as Amazon want our private data to be able to target products and services to us. Criminals need them to find ways to get into your home. This way, some consumers think that smart devices are not harmful to them. Of course, a few others object to this.

The fact that people are often the worst judges of their behavior also complicates matters. Proctor says that we tend to behave better in theory than in real life. Some consumers say they are ready to lead a life free of smart devices. Nevertheless, when these people get an opportunity to buy the devices, they go ahead and acquire them.

Privacy breaches are also deemed to be infrequent. Thus, many people do not see any immediate danger.

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