How the Internet of Things is Stealing our Privacy

I have to admit, while researching the Internet of Things (IoT) this week, I secretly loved all the products that were receiving so much hate. “How lazy does one have to be to need a machine to make their coffee by the time their alarm goes off?” As lazy as me, my friends. As lazy as me.

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But putting aside my downright slothful reasons for loving the Internet of Things, do the benefits make up for the loss of privacy. This got me thinking into just how beneficial the IoT is to individual consumers. While I was amused and intrigued by some of the inventions I stumbled upon while studying this topic, I couldn’t help but think that they were at best, making our lives slightly more convenient, not actually satisfying a growing need. While having my coffee ready for me by the time I get out of bed would be nice, the idea of having it 2 minutes later is not a disaster. I guess.

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What could be interpreted as a disaster though, is the loss of privacy that comes from the IoT.

I tend to experience a feeling of FOMO when my friends catch up without me, but the idea of my devices talking about me is one that makes me feel very uneasy. While I enjoy the identical message alerts I get on both my laptop and phone (making me feel a lot more popular than I actually am), I have to wonder how easy it would be for others to connect to my device as well.

While the messages on my phone would only serve to bore a hacker, there are other connections that may cause concern. The personal information that would be gathered by these IoT may not be information we are willing to give up. For example, a device which lets you know when you’re low on your medicine may aid you in terms of convenience, but do you feel comfortable having your medical information out there?

I believe it comes down to personal opinion, and whether or not you believe that the benefit you’re receiving from a certain IoT is worth the privacy you sacrifice. But for consumers to make up their own mind, companies need to be transparent about the data that they will be collecting.

 

What do you think about the loss of privacy? A large sacrifice or a small inconvenience? Let me know in the comments below.

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7 thoughts on “How the Internet of Things is Stealing our Privacy

  1. Hey Georgia, great blog!
    I too think it’s absolutely vital for companies to be transparent about the data they’re collecting as it helps marketers gain the trust of customers when there is so much controversy around privacy issues. In terms of the level of risk associated with privacy, it depends on what information is collected. Personally if it is surrounding what clothes I buy online, it is less worrying to me than companies tracking my location through apps like Google maps services. I feel like each customer is subjective when it comes to the information they care to release, I’m sure the many customers that are unaware of how much of their data is actually public would be inclined to become more conservative with their technological activities don’t you think?

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Annie! I definitely agree. I know that before this week I hadn’t really put any thought into the personal information that’s collected through my technological activities. For me personally it hasn’t changed how I use technology, but I am now conscious of it when I do. I’m sure though that there are some people who may change their behaviour because of it. Have you changed the way you use technology after learning about the IoT’s?

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      1. I must say I do keep an eye on what apps are using my location services as for some, I don’t require them at all and they automatically turn on through the app if I don’t adjust this in my settings, but there have been no dramatic changes other than that for me personally. I am just more aware of how IoTs are relevant in the marketing world.

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  2. Hi Georgia,

    Great read this week! Really interesting and entertaining.

    First of all this weeks topic was quite interesting in terms of all the weird products out there but like you mentioned in your post it does make you wonder what the privacy issues will be and how well the average consumer will handle it?

    Having all these devices linked up and having your private information out there is quite daunting. I don’t ever like giving out my email to random organisations because I’m afraid of the unnecessary content I’ll receive in return and I’m a marketing student, so what are the chances of an average consumer providing their information to these devices? Privacy is possibly the biggest issue in my opinion with these inter-linked devices, no one likes to have their private information roaming around in real life, so why would they want to have it floating around in cyberspace?

    The IoT and the privacy issues also makes you think how well these products are going to be perceived by consumers in general. How are people going to like a product knowing they might be susceptible to invasion of privacy, which then brings up the whole idea of how marketers are going to promote a product that people are already skeptical on? There are definitely a lot of factor involved with these IoT products and it really depends on the individual and how they are willing to use the product right?

    So I definitely think that the constant development of these products on the IoT can be a little irrelevant, I mean majority of the products are suppose to be for convenience but it’s really just bringing societies inner sloth out right? Like you said having to wait 2 minutes extra for a coffee isn’t really that big of deal people.

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    1. Great points, Nish! Considering that so many of these products are created for our convenience, is it even worth it when you consider the amount of privacy we are giving up? I think that marketers of IoT products being transparent about the information they are collecting may help to ease the consumers’ minds, and gain their trust. Similar to when online shopping became popular, it took some time before consumers could trust that companies were not going to take advantage of their information. Like IoT products currently, online shopping may have been perceived as a convenience that was not worth giving up personal information for. But as companies proved they could be trusted with this information, it became more accepted. I wonder if this is the path that IoT products will follow.

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  3. Hey Georgia,
    I think your perspective on the Internet of Things (IoT) is really interesting and I also question whether or not the benefits that stem from this integrated network outweigh the potential loss of privacy. I predict that as the IoT becomes more and more widespread, only more consumers will embrace the integration and trade off their own privacy for the convenience. Don’t get me wrong, I think the IoT is great because it raises so many technical capabilities to help make our lives easier, but as you say – there’s always a trade-off. For example, the information we create and share might be used in ways that exceed our original expectations or authorisation (CSO, 2016). Also, if we think about it, software is written by people who can make mistakes. The consequences of an incorrect instruction going to a TV or fridge in someone’s home could be quite serious! Imagine if an automated application unlocked a door and there was a subsequent theft? Who would be liable for what in this chain of events? It all seems quite complex but I think these are important questions that need to be considered if we want to maintain some sort of security.
    I came across a blog post by Drozhzhin (2015) who talks about the IoT in regards to the dangers of hacking. You might find it interesting to read as he also discusses privacy issues and how unexpectedly vulnerable our connected devices can be.
    In response to your question, I think that the IoT will provide some huge benefits for us in the future but I also suspect that we may encounter a flood of appliances, which will be connected without a second thought as to whether or not they are really necessary.
    Looking forward to your next post!

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    1. Thanks for the comment! Trusting that the technology itself that it won’t malfunction is another very important point when considering IoT products. As you said, it can lead to catastrophic circumstances. I read the blog by Drozhzhin you came across and was very intrigued by some of the points. When I considered the information that IoT’s collected, I thought of how companies and large corporations could use it. However, as Drozhzhin notes, this information can be accessed by even amateur hackers. This means that people close to us could access information like our whereabouts (through hacking our GPS) for example. While I don’t think my life is interesting enough for anyone to want to know where I am all the time, I’m sure for others this may be a dangerous situation. Pretty chilling stuff don’t you think!

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