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The Internet of Things: Consumer Reports Joins Push For IOT Standards
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The Internet of Things: Consumer Reports Joins Push For IOT Standards - Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Consumer Reports Joins Push For IOT Standards

Executive Leadership Articles

The Internet of Things: Consumer Reports Joins Push For IOT Standards

This past May, Consumer Reports announced a collaborative effort “to establish a new standard” protecting consumers’ security and privacy. “The goal is to help consumers understand which digital products do the most to protect their privacy and security, and give them the most control over their personal data,” reads the announcement.

It’s nearly impossible nowadays to live completely off the net, as more and more consumer products include some element of connectivity, or “smart”ness. Only a few years ago, wifi in homes was for the geeker of our neighbors and friends, but now it’s practically the expectation, and where many homes had a family computer, it’s normal now—in fact, nearly necessary—for each member of a household to have his or her own computer.

Add television streaming devices, voice-activated home assistants, net-connected televisions, wireless printers, and personal tablets, and even the most basically equipped home offers many opportunities for malicious actors to get ahold of our data or snoop on our personal activity. Many of us have introduced the next level of smart connectivity to our homes: door locks, security cameras, thermostats, toys, baby monitors, and lighting are among the more common, with tons more on the way.

As one of America’s most reputable non-profit consumer advisors, Consumer Reports is taking it upon itself to evaluate products for their attention to buyers’ privacy and security. Other entities are also working on standards, but one, an initiative in a federal agency, seems to have stalled, while others may have priorities different from CR’s.

Ostensibly, CR will use the new standard in evaluating products. The newest smart light bulb would be evaluated not only for value, reliability, safety, and usefulness, it would be examined against the new standard. How committed is the manufacturer to its customers’ ability to control what they share?

The new digital standard is a work in progress and is available at the link below, but at its heart, it asserts that (1) products should be built to be secure, (2) products should preserve consumer privacy, (3) products should protect the idea of ownership, and (4) companies should act ethically.

This is a huge, perhaps overdue step. In the same way UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories) has for more than a hundred years certified the safety of electric appliances, the CR initiative could be the new label we look for as we download new apps, add new devices to our homes, or whatever the next smart technologies might be. At the very least, the savvy consumer looking for reassurance might check with CR before making a new purchase. And safer products are better for everyone, customer and manufacturer.

Reference Links:
Consumer Reports: https://www.consumerreports.org/privacy/consumer-reports-to-begin-evaluating-products-services-for-privacy-and-data-security
The Consumer Reports Digital Standard: https://www.thedigitalstandard.org/

 

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The Internet of Things: Consumer Reports Joins Push For IOT Standards - Executive Leadership Articles

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