THE average household is littered with smart home devices that could secretly be spying on you, according to new research.
Owners of most electronic devices today are being asked to provide reams of data to far-away manufacturers which could see private data landing in the palms of social media and marketing companies, consumer organisation Which? has warned.
Smart washing machines took researchers by the most surprise[/caption]
Consumers are well acquainted with the idea of signing over data to device manufacturers, with a quick ticking of a box during an item’s set up.
But Which? has found that companies appear to collect far more data than is needed for the product to work properly.
And there appears to be a big difference in data shared if you have an iPhone or an Android smartphone.
Some smart speakers, such as Bose, share data with Meta – the parent company of Facebook.
Google Nest speakers, and other products, request contacts and location on Android, but neither on Apple’s iOS – despite the functions being the exact same on both phones.
While smart TVs, like those from LG, Samsung and Sony, insist on having user data to give customers’ personalised ads.
“Consumers have already paid for smart products, in some cases thousands of pounds, so it is excessive that they have to continue to ‘pay’ with their personal information,” said Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at Which?
“Firms should not collect more data than they need to provide the service that’s on offer, particularly if they are going to bury this important information in lengthy terms and conditions.”
Brands of security cameras, such as high-street retailed Ezviz, share customer data with Google, Meta, Huawei and TikTok, according to the research.
Other popular devices, such as Ring, Arlo, Eufy and Blink smart cameras, doorbells and their respective apps, track their customers’ location – despite it not being necessary for the product to function.
Blink and Ring also send data back to their parent company Amazon.
Smart camera and doorbell customers aren’t given the option to sign up for this – all permissions are activated by default, according to Which?
Smart washing machines took researchers by the most surprise.
Brands like LG and Hoover want a customer’s name, date of birth, email, phone contact book, precise location and phone number before they can use the app.
Hoover even requires access to a users’ contacts and phone numbers on Google-owned Android devices.
Concha has urged the ICO, the UK’s data watchdog, to update its guidelines to “protect consumers from accidentally giving up huge swathes of their own data without realising.”
Because unless consumers trawl through pages of fine print, few will understand the data they are giving away and where it goes.
Google said: “Google fully complies with applicable privacy laws and provides transparency to our users regarding the data we collect and how we use it.”
Amazon said: “We design our products to protect our customers’ privacy and security and to put our customers in control of their experience.
“We never sell their personal data, and we never stop working to keep their information safe.
“We use data responsibly to deliver what our customers expect: products that they love and are always getting better.”
Other firms contacted by Which? did not respond.
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