Part one discussed the challenges and privacy threats smart devices for the home create for consumers. Today's blog post discusses data ownership, and how to shop wisely.
You've probably heard the terms: Internet of Things. Smart Home. Connected home. All refer to the myriad of devices in your home that are connected to the Internet, outfitted with sensors, collect information about your usage (e.g., who, what, when, where, why, and how long), and transmit that digital information collected to the device manufacturer and others.
The collected information is often shared with corporate partners or affiliates, such as the device's operating system software developer and mobile payments provider. (See this chart for partners by payment type.) Data may also be shared with the Internet Service Provider and/or the wireless service provider (for mobile apps).
The types of devices vary far beyond smart phones and tablets. Some include security, lighting, temperature controls, and safety devices (e.g., smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors). Some may be toys used by very young children. Some may be fitness devices that collect your health information and transmit it to entities not bound by HIPAA and HITECH laws.
This data collection isn't new. It's been happening long before the Internet and smart phones. You might say that digitization and mobilization made the data collection far easier and far more extensive.
A wise consumer is bound to ask: who owns the data these collect (and transmit) about me and my family? Great question. ZD Net explored the answer:
"According to law firm Taylor Wessing, end users don't really have ownership rights to the data gathered by off-the-shelf systems they've installed. If you've rolled out a smart home set-up, you can't legitimately claim that all the details about when you switched on your lights or opened your garage belong to you and you alone."
The term "end users" refers to consumers... you. So, consumers in the United States have few property rights. That means you have little control over the data collection and sharing with others. Not good.
And, it's worse because devices don't always indicate when they are recording your activity, what you do and say:
Whatever smart home devices you purchase, shop wisely:
- Read both the terms of conditions and privacy policies before purchase. If you don't like the terms, don't buy it and keep shopping for alternatives.
- Buy devices that include regular software updates, just like your computer. This helps protect you (and the data collected about you and your family) against malware, hacks, and computer viruses by unauthorized persons.
- Buy devices that are truly smart. Avoid devices that are simply outfitted with a touch-screen and Internet connection. You're probably paying (a lot) more, so make sure you get more. And,
- Buy devices with robust privacy settings, so you can control what information you share, when, and how.
What do you consider when shopping for smart devices for your home?