The Internet of Stings: research will probe privacy and legal concerns of smart devices

What happens to all the sensitive personal information our smart devices collect from us? Where does the data picked up by our smart watches, speakers and TVs go, who has access to it and how is it used?

  Smart speaker  Credit: Howard Bouchevereau via Unsplash

These questions have been worrying researchers at the University of Cambridge Department of Computer Science and Technology. Now they are launching a year-long investigation into the ways our information is being collected and whether or not these always comply with regulations and the law.

Working in collaboration with colleagues at Imperial College London, they will probe the data that flows from the Internet of Things – the networked consumer devices, such as smart printers, doorbells and toys, that are an increasing presence in our homes.

Backed by a grant from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s data protection regulator, they will be investigating what Dr Jat Singh describes as ‘the Internet of Stings’.

Research shows that information from our devices often finds its way to a range of third parties, such as user-tracking and advertising networks that may mine it for valuable information about consumer behaviour. He’s also worried about the occasions when data is transmitted from one country to another where there may be different rules, rights and restrictions around data and its use.

So Singh and the research team want to investigate the transmission of data from our devices to find out if it is in line with relevant law – and to inform consumers about the potential of what we can do to have better control over our information.

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Image:  Smart speaker

Credit: Howard Bouchevereau via Unsplash

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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