Smart home privacy: Are high-tech appliances spying on your routines?


Nowadays, it feels like anything and everything can connect to the Internet. — dpa

Nowadays, it feels like anything and everything can connect to the Internet. — dpa

You may find it handy to turn on your sitting room's radiator from your car or start the slow cooker from your office desk.

But consumer protection agencies are urging fans of smart home tech to consider what kind of personal details they're giving away in the manufacturer's data protection policies before they go and purchase a smart appliance.

You're also advised to check these policies before downloading their application to your phone or tablet. That's because a manufacturer will likely want to collect data about your daily habits and routines, which they can then use in product development or even for advertising purposes.

There are two types of connected appliances: The first are those that use a closed system, meaning they can only connect to other appliances and applications by the same manufacturer, making them less accessible to the outside world and therefore less problematic in terms of data protection.

Then there are those appliances that use an open system, which allows appliances and applications from a range of manufacturers to interconnect. These are mostly operated by voice recognition or with the help of a cloud system.

With these appliances, data collection is much easier and could be problematic if manufacturers pass the information gathered on to third parties.

Customers should therefore check data protection regulations in order to know whether the manufacturer is using the collected data for internal purposes or if they want to pass on the information to third parties.

If the policies are unclear, consumers should double check with the manufacturer by contacting them, rather than just blindly accepting the terms of use. – dpa