Consumers want privacy but lack knowledge

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03/04/2020

With data privacy and security issues making the headlines on almost a daily basis — from the collection and handling of biometric data to securing identities in a digitally connected world — it was interesting to read the findings on ADT’s recent privacy survey showing that respondents want protection but lack knowledge on the topic.

The survey, conducted by YouGov of 1,230 U.S. consumers during December 2019, found that 92 percent of respondents feel smart home security companies need to take measures to protect customers’ personal data and information.

However, while concerns around privacy are high, more than 40 percent of those surveyed admit they don’t feel knowledgeable on the topic. ADT pointed out that the smart home security industry has the opportunity to provide leadership and guidance in this area to maintain consumer trust and promote responsible data privacy practices within the industry.

“ADT released the first Internet-connected smart home security platform in 2010, and we’ve consistently taken great care to protect and connect our customers in the most secure ways possible, using leading industry standards and best practices to guard their data, privacy and personal information,” ADT President and CEO Jim DeVries said in the announcement. “Where there is consumer confusion about privacy, we as an industry must work to reduce that confusion so consumers can be confident that the products and services we provide to help keep them safe can be trusted. With that trust in place, there can be greater peace of mind.”

According to ADT, the explosion of the smart home device category ushered in scores of new manufacturers and brands that may have put convenience before user privacy. However, the ADT consumer privacy opinion survey revealed consumers are now aware of and concerned about privacy as it relates to smart home devices with the top concerns reported to be hacking (75 percent) followed by government spying on in-home smart cameras (53 percent) and smart speakers (52 percent).

The survey also uncovered that when it comes to how personal information is shared, consumers tend to be more concerned about how governments (89 percent) and companies (93 percent) share their personal information than they are about how they share their own personal information on social media (86 percent). And, despite acknowledging the importance of privacy protocols, most consumers don’t use privacy measures available to them. In fact, fewer than 40 percent of survey respondents reported having any data privacy measures in place at all.

“These consumer privacy opinion survey findings validate the work we’ve been doing as an industry over the past year to create a set of guiding principles, designed to help protect customer privacy and trust in the security industry and member companies, and to unify ourselves around them,” said ADT Chief Privacy Officer Frank Cona.

In an effort to bring greater awareness to this issue, ADT started the Consumer Privacy Initiative, an industry-level initiative that began last year to unite the smart home security industry and produce clear guiding principles and best practices for how security providers manage consumer data and protect their privacy. Participants, including producers of security products and security related software, implementers and other service providers, and industry associations, joined together during the past year to develop a baseline of industry-wide guiding principles for consumer privacy, with input from consumer advocates.

This coming together of industry leaders is good to see, as they understand that the first step toward enlightenment is through awareness and education.

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