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Privacy is the boring bit: User perceptions and behaviour in the Internet−of−Things

Meredydd Williams‚ Jason R.C. Nurse and Sadie Creese


In opinion polls, the public frequently claim to value their privacy. However, individuals often seem to overlook the principle, contributing to a disparity labelled the `Privacy Paradox'. The growth of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) is frequently claimed to place privacy at risk. However, the Paradox remains underexplored in the IoT. In addressing this, we first conduct an online survey (N = 170) to compare public opinions of IoT and less-novel devices. Although we find users perceive privacy risks, many decide to purchase smart devices. With the IoT rated less usable/familiar, we assert that it constrains protective behaviour. To explore this hypothesis, we perform contextualised interviews (N = 40) with the general public. In these dialogues, owners discuss their opinions and actions with a personal device. We find the Paradox is significantly more prevalent in the IoT, frequently justified by a lack of awareness. We finish by highlighting the qualitative comments of users, and suggesting practical solutions to their issues. This is the first work, to our knowledge, to evaluate the Privacy Paradox over a broad range of technologies.

Book Title
15th International Conference on Privacy‚ Security and Trust (PST)
(To appear)