Concerns Over Privacy and Security Contribute to Consumer Distrust in Connected Devices

New research shows privacy, security are frequently key consumer
concerns and drive buying decisions

73% of consumers think people using connected devices should worry
about eavesdropping, and 63% think connected devices are “creepy” in the
way they collect data about people and their behaviors

survey conducted
in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia,
France and the United Kingdom by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Internet
Society and Consumers International found that 65% of consumers are
concerned with the way connected devices collect data. More than half
(55%) do not trust their connected devices1 to protect their
privacy and a similar proportion (53%) do not trust connected devices to
handle their information responsibly.

The results of the survey were announced today at Consumers
International Summit 2019
in Lisbon, Portugal, to an audience of
consumer organizations from around the globe working together with
representatives from business, civil society, and governments.

Connected devices are everywhere and many people are willing to be part
of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. 69% of those surveyed said
they own connected devices, such as smart meters, fitness monitors,
connected toys, home assistants, or gaming consoles.

However, testing by multiple consumers organizations has found a range
of products are rushed to market with little consideration for basic
security and privacy protections2. The survey results show
that 77% of consumers across markets said information about privacy and
security are important considerations in their buying decisions and
almost a third of people (28%) who don’t own a connected device don’t
buy smart products because of these concerns. Consumers see this broadly
as much of a barrier as cost.

“The survey results underscore the need for IoT manufacturers to build
their devices with security and privacy in mind,” said Internet Society
President and CEO Andrew Sullivan. “Security should not be an
afterthought. It’s clear that manufacturers and retailers need to do
more so that consumers can trust their IoT devices.”

Those surveyed also believe that accountability for connected device
concerns should sit with regulators, manufacturers and retailers. 88%
percent of survey respondents said that regulators should ensure IoT
privacy and security standards, while 81% of people said manufacturers
need to provide that assurance, and 80% said retailers must address
privacy and security. 60% of participants across markets think consumers
to be mainly responsible for the security and privacy of their connected

Helena Leurent, Director General, Consumers International said:
“Consumers have told us they accept that they have some responsibility
for the security and privacy of their IoT products but that isn’t the
end of the story. They, and we, want to see tangible action from
manufacturers, retailers, and governments on this issue. It has to be a
collective effort, not the responsibility of one group. We are exploring
this conversation with progressive manufacturers. Together we are
looking at the opportunity to create person-centered technology, that
people not only enjoy using, but feel safe and secure doing so. By doing
this business can address the concerns of those not engaging with this
tech, and open up the benefits of the Internet of Things to everyone.”

Other key results from survey participants show that:

  • 85% of Americans agree that manufacturers should only produce
    connected devices that protect privacy and security
  • 82% of Americans agree that retailers should ensure the connected
    devices they sell have good privacy and security standards
  • 66% of Americans who actually own connected devices agree that they
    are “creepy” in the way they collect data about people
    and their behaviors

An infographic with the survey highlights can be downloaded at:

Notes to Editors

In 2018, the Internet Society and Consumers International formed a
working partnership aimed at creating a safer, more trusted Internet for
everyone. The organizations collaborate on a wide range of initiatives
engaging consumers, governments, regulators, and businesses on the
importance of secure and trusted consumer IoT devices. For tips and
information on what consumers can do to protect themselves, please

About the Internet Society

Founded by Internet pioneers, the Internet Society is a non-profit
organization dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and
use of the Internet. Working through a global community of chapters and
members, the Internet Society collaborates with a broad range of groups
to promote the technologies that keep the Internet safe and secure and
advocates for policies that enable universal access. The Internet
Society is also the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF). For more information, visit

About Consumers International

Consumers International is the global membership organization for
consumer groups across the world. We believe in a world where everyone
has access to safe and sustainable products and services. We bring
together over 200 member organizations in more than 100 countries to
empower and champion the rights of consumers everywhere. We are their
voice in international policy-making forums and the global marketplace
to ensure they are treated safely, fairly and honestly. We are
resolutely independent, unconstrained by businesses or political
parties. We work on issues that impact consumers in the digital era
including e-commerce, data privacy and security, the Internet of Things,
affordability, and access. We want consumers to get the best out of the
digital economy and society without having to compromise on
quality, care and fair treatment.

About the Survey

1. Interviews were conducted online by Ipsos MORI among a representative
quota sample in six countries (1000 adults aged 18-65 in Australia, 1072
adults aged 18-75 in Canada, 1094 adults aged 16-75 in France, 1000
adults aged 18-65 in Japan, 1130 adults aged 16-75 in the UK, and 1085
adults aged 18-75 in USA). The data was collected between 1st
March and 6th March 2019 and have been weighted to the known
profile of the respective population.

2. The ‘overall’ figures quoted are derived from aggregating the
percentages for each market, weighted by population numbers in the
respective countries. The number for any specific market may be higher
or lower than the total percentage.

3. Full question wording for each of the questions referred to in this
release is given in the accompanying “topline” results document.

4. The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Consumers
International and the Internet Society.

1 For this research, we defined smart devices as everyday
products and devices that can connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi or
Bluetooth, such as smart meters, fitness monitors, connected toys, home
assistants, or gaming consoles. The definition excluded tablets, mobile
phones, and laptops.

2 For example:


Allesandra deSantillana
Internet Society
[email protected]

Suzi Price
Consumers International
[email protected]

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