Smart tech is expected to be a popular category again this year, with Brits primed to bag themselves a bargain in the annual sales event.
From speakers answering your every question to doorbells that let you know about (un)welcome visitors in real time, the benefits of these devices are obvious. However, the risks to your personal data are often less clear.
Research shows that over half of Brits (52%) feel like they do not know how their personal data is being collected and used 1. This is particularly concerning when it comes to smart devices, which slide seamlessly into our everyday lives and continuously collect information in the background.
John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner said: “We know that consumers want to enjoy the benefits of smart devices but that they also value their privacy in an increasingly connected world. They shouldn’t have to choose between the two. These tips from our tech experts will help consumers to make informed purchases and have more control over how their personal data is being used.”
The ICO is currently researching smart tech to identify any privacy-unfriendly practices, which will be addressed in its upcoming guidance next year.
Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy said: “Which? is warning consumers to be wary when shopping for connected tech products this Black Friday. Make sure you have researched the product you’re thinking of buying, steer clear of any that have concerning security flaws and check to see how you can control the data the device is able to access or collect. … “Our recent investigation found smart tech firms are collecting more data than they need and burying this important information in lengthy terms and conditions 2. It’s positive that the ICO is looking at updating its guidelines on smart tech privacy and vital that this leads to better protection for consumers against accidentally giving up huge swathes of their own data without realising.”
Top tips from the ICO
Before you buy:
Once it’s arrived:
When it’s time to move on, break up properly:
The regulator has already tested various smart devices to better understand how they interact with their users when it comes to sharing data. In the upcoming months, the ICO will also be speaking to some of the biggest tech brands to understand the protections they are putting in place for consumers.
To make sure that the guidance focuses on the most pressing privacy concerns, the ICO will be conducting a citizen jury next year, asking a group of people for their views on smart tech and how they think their data is being used.
If you have bought a smart product and still have concerns about how your data is being used, you can complain to the ICO.
About the ICO
- The ICO is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five acts and regulations.
- The ICO can take action to address and change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone call our helpline on 0303 123 1113, or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.
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