The Internet of Things and Consumer Privacy

The Internet of Things (IoT) promises a new world where almost every conceivable physical item sends and receives data via the Internet. The potential to transform physical 'things' such as toothbrushes and pacemakers into interconnected and intelligent devices from which data can be generated, shared, and analysed, ushers in unprecedented business opportunities.

However, the prospect of such comprehensive and all-encompassing collection of data inextricably linked to the lives of humans raises troubling scenarios. For example consumer surveillance, identity theft, invasive marketing, and more potent hacking methods affecting personal lives, including the most sensitive private information.

This projects explores the following three research questions:

  1. How do consumers feel about privacy in a world of increased connectivity enabled by the IoT?
  2. How can privacy–by-design be effectively built into the IoT development process without stifling innovation and creativity? and
  3. How can 3rd party users (i.e. data analysts) of IoT data meet and adhere to consumer’s privacy needs?

Initial findings indicate that consumers are concerned about their privacy and data protection.

While privacy views and needs vary, most consumers want greater control of their privacy commensurate with the purpose, use and service delivery associated with their data. In particular, consumers want greater transparency in terms of knowing who benefits from their data, how and when their data is used, and for what purposes.

Effective means of giving consent and assurance of anonymity and encryption of their data throughout the data life cycle were also part of the requirements.

Research Team