The Internet of Things (IoT) is the international effort to incorporate unique identifiers to give household and industrial devices the ability to transfer data over a network and avoid human-to-human or human-to-computer involvement. In other words, the chips included on IoT devices will do all the work. The advantages are that companies will be able to detect the problem with a product, say a television, without a customer service representative or technician ever having to make a phone call. This makes it easier for the company to correctly identify the problem and arrive at a quick solution.
Consumers Have Reason To Balk
Consumers have good reason to balk at their personal information, including their specific identifiers such as home address, being floated around cyberspace. Their recent experiences with data breaches at major retail outlets still have many weary of anything that does not have maximum security for their personal data. Adding another technology to the mix that will not be able to prove its security until it becomes a part of many consumers daily lives should make people nervous. The general thinking is: why tempt fate.
As companies gear up for incorporating the technology into the manufacturing process, pre-distribution surveys are being conducted to understand consumer sentiment. The results thus far are not very encouraging. Part of the blame lies at the feet of the manufacturers. Less than 20 percent of consumers said they were aware of the personal data sharing capabilities of the IoT technology installed in their devices. A separate 20 percent indicated that if they knew their personal information was being shared by IoT devices it would very likely change their consumer behavior. Between people being unaware and then, once discovered, opting to change their buying behavior, manufacturers and businesses have a ways to go before declaring the IoT a success.
Three Peas in a Pod
The three reasons given in a recent survey point to the real problem with the IoT: social media use, the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, and being victimized by a data breach. All three reasons point to the issue of a consumer’s personal data being put at risk wherever they may be. If a device that is at home can be hacked by a mobile device when someone is not at home, that increases the concern. Some may argue it is an issue of resistance to technology and progress, but a more moderate assessment is to first secure our current technology rather than move forward in what is justly seen as a reckless manner.
There’s a reason why companies are so willing to test out their technology and money saving ideas on consumers. It is the consumer who puts up the money to use the products, and should the technology have significant flaws, what will the consumer do to recoup their losses? Those losses may include personal data, but most certainly would include the money spent for a device that now poses a threat to their privacy. The companies actually have limited risk, since the will make a profit on the products they sell and the technology is not very expensive. The consumer, once again, will have suffered irretrievable losses.