Privacy Protection and IoT


In our last article we pointed out some interesting applications for 3D sensors in the smart home of the future. However, installing sensors in your home bears some considerable risks.


In the past, there have been scandals around easy access to security cameras in private homes. You could simply stream video feeds of other people’s security cameras via the internet with no technical knowledge.


Such security issues can just as well affect 3D sensors that are used for smart home applications.

The question therefore is, whether people are OK with this risk and in general, with sharing their data with providers of smart home devices, in exchange for e.g. a lower price.


In January 2016, a study was released which centered around this question. It asks for whether US Americans accept different scenarios that cut back their privacy. These scenarios range from camera surveillance at the workplace, sharing health information, retail loyalty cards, personalized car insurance, free social media to smart home thermostats.


Privacy Protection and IoT


In a nutshell, the most interesting results of the study were the following:


54% of US Americans find it acceptable to be monitored by security cameras at work (24% find it inacceptable).

On the other hand, only 27% accept to share information with the provider of an intelligent thermostat concerning basic activities that take place inside their home (55% find it not acceptable).


How can this big difference be explained? In both cases, people give away private information as to how they move around, work etc.  in moments they feel unobserved. The study shows that many people are unwilling to share information about their movements at home because they are concerned about burglars. Generally, there seems to be an invisible privacy line when it comes to someone’s home. Understandably, people don’t want others to know what they are doing when they are alone. And, potentially, every 3D sensor can turn into a spy in your own home.


What does that imply for the internet of things and smart home applications?


Providers will have to take good care of potential security leaks. It should not be possible for delinquents to obtain sensitive data. Further scandals will make it harder for IoT companies to convince users of their services.

Moreover, providers will need to convince people that data from their device and services are not disclosed to anybody – or, only if they agree to this. People want to be able to choose for themselves whether they trade their information in exchange for discounts.


How do you feel about smart home applications and potential security issues?


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