As an increasing number of everyday objects become connected to the internet, the rise of smart home devices like the Google Home and Amazon Alexa are becoming even more prolific. Of course, the main concern associated with devices like these is privacy, and recent announcements from both Google and Amazon prove that those concerns are not unfounded.
The two technology giants announced that they will be using those smart devices to gather even more data than they previously have been collecting. That’s right, even before this announcement those Alexa and Google Home devices were recording every time you issued a command. Now, the smart-device makers are looking to expand that data collection to a continuous stream of information.
What exactly does that mean? It means that if your lights are connected to a smart hub they would report back every time the light is turned on or off, even if you use the switch to do it. Televisions would report what channel they are set to, and smart locks would report when the door is locked and when it’s not.
What isn’t clear is what this data would be used for. An Amazon spokesperson told the Insurance Journal that they don’t sell data to third parties and don’t use this data to inform advertising strategies. So what then, is this data used for? According to the spokesperson, these status reports are used to inform future features.
As a consumer, it is difficult to believe that this data won’t be used for some other purpose at some point. Neither company has divulged how long they store this data for, which means their policies could change over time.
In today’s digital era, when privacy is always top of mind, it is concerning to see companies prioritize convenience over security. No one can deny the convenience that comes with smart device integration into the home, but the idea that this convenience will supersede privacy concerns is troubling. The land of smart devices are still very much the wild west, but these privacy concerns make one thing clear–laws are coming.