ADT, a provider of security, automation, and smart home solutions serving consumer and business customers in the United States, released key findings from a consumer privacy survey that reveals consumer sentiment on the topic. With many data privacy and security issues in the news, it’s no surprise that 92 percent of respondents feel smart home security companies need to take measures to protect customers’ personal data and information.

However, while concerns around privacy are high, more than 40 percent of those surveyed admit they don’t feel knowledgeable on the topic. The smart home security industry has the opportunity to provide leadership and guidance in this area to maintain consumer trust and promote responsible data privacy practices within the industry.

Internet-connected smart home security platform

We’ve consistently taken great care to protect and connect our customers in the most secure ways possible"

ADT released the first Internet-connected smart home security platform in 2010, and we’ve consistently taken great care to protect and connect our customers in the most secure ways possible, using leading industry standards and best practices to guard their data, privacy and personal information,” said Jim DeVries, President and CEO of ADT.

Where there is consumer confusion about privacy, we as an industry must work to reduce that confusion so consumers can be confident that the products and services we provide to help keep them safe can be trusted. With that trust in place, there can be greater peace of mind.”

Key consumer privacy opinion survey findings

The explosion of the smart home device category ushered in scores of new manufacturers and brands that may have put convenience before user privacy. However, the ADT consumer privacy opinion survey revealed consumers are now aware of and concerned about privacy as it relates to smart home devices with the top concerns reported to be hacking (75%) followed by government spying on in-home smart cameras (53%) and smart speakers (52%).

The survey also uncovered that when it comes to how personal information is shared, consumers tend to be more concerned about how governments (89%) and companies (93%) share their personal information than they are about how they share their own personal information on social media (86%).

No data privacy measures

These consumer privacy opinion survey findings validate the work we’ve been doing as an industry over the past year"

And, despite acknowledging the importance of privacy protocols, most consumers don’t use privacy measures available to them. In fact, fewer than 40% of survey respondents reported having any data privacy measures in place at all.

These consumer privacy opinion survey findings validate the work we’ve been doing as an industry over the past year to create a set of guiding principles, designed to help protect customer privacy and trust in the security industry and member companies, and to unify ourselves around them,” said Frank Cona, Chief Privacy Officer at ADT. 

Consumer privacy initiative 

Previously on Data Privacy Day, ADT announced the Consumer Privacy Initiative, an industry-level initiative to unite the smart home security industry and produce clear guiding principles and best practices for how security providers manage consumer data and protect their privacy. Participants, including producers of security products and security related software, implementers and other service providers, and industry associations joined together during the past year to develop a baseline of industry-wide guiding principles for consumer privacy, with input from consumer advocates.

The guiding principles are being developed with the understanding that providers of smart home security products and services must continually earn the trust of their customers by prioritizing their privacy as well as their safety. The principles will evolve with the changing smart home and security landscape, addressing top-of-mind issues such as facial recognition and analytics. Current areas of focus include:

  • Privacy by Design - Consumer privacy should be embedded in all areas of the security industry, and that begins with the design of the products used to help protect and connect customers.
  • Transparency - Providers of security products and services must spell out in clear and understandable terms how they collect, use, share, and retain sensitive data.
  • Handling of Audio and Video - Security providers will only share audio or video with first responders with their customers’ prior consent, or as required by law, and will not otherwise access a customer’s audio or video without the customer’s knowledge.
  • Data Correction and Deletion - Security providers will create an easily accessible process for customers to request that personal information collected by that provider be deleted. Customers can also request that data errors be corrected.
  • Guidance and Use - Providers of security products and services will equip customers with information that empowers them to use their security products and services in a manner that better enhances everyone’s privacy. This could involve adjusting data collection settings, setup of cameras, or establishing video and audio data retention timeframes that work best for them.
  • Accountability - Providers of security products and services will commit to additional accountability measures, such as independent privacy assessments.

The Consumer Privacy Initiative is an ongoing effort. To date, the following organisations have collaborated in developing the guiding principles, and ADT invite other organisations to join in support of this effort:

  • ADT, a provider of security, automation, and smart home solutions serving consumer and business customers in the United States.
  • Alarm.com, a platform for the intelligently connected property.
  • Electronic Security Association, a trade association in the United States representing the electronic security and life safety industry.
  • Security Industry Association (SIA), a trade association for global security solution providers, with more than 1,000 innovative member companies representing thousands of security leaders and experts who shape the future of the security industry.
  • Sercomm, a manufacturer and supplier of telecom equipment.
  • TrustArc/Nymity, who provides solutions to manage privacy compliance for the GDPR, CCPA and other global privacy regulations.
  • Vector Security, a provider of intelligent security solutions tailored to the needs of the customer.
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