Britons distrust internet of things

13 October 2014

LONDON: Security and privacy are high on the list of concerns for British consumers, yet they remain open to some of the advantages that the "internet of things" can bring, a new survey has shown.

A survey of 1,600 UK consumers by business services firm KPMG found more than half (58%) resent the idea that computers seem to run their lives and 70% suggest that, with so many inter-connected devices, it is too easy for things to go wrong.

The survey also found that many Britons seem to want to return to the days of simple technology with over half (54%) saying they wished their phones only made calls.

The majority also don't see the point of some home-based smart technology, such as internet-connected fridges that order food when supplies run low or cookers that remind householders about recipes.

However, they are more responsive to connected technology that deals with health and energy. Nearly half (48%) welcome the concept of smart meters than can save energy while 40% like health monitors that warn about impending illness.

It seems much of this distrust leads back to a perception of being kept under "Big Brother" surveillance – an opinion shared by over half (56%) of respondents.

This concern also extends to the workplace where more than a third (36%) fear their employer could use new technology to monitor everything they do. 

"It is clear that consumers are struggling with a desire to use connected devices as a route towards an easier life, but they remain wary of the rise of the machine," said Wil Rockall, a director in KPMG's Cyber Security practice.

But, he added: "They still support innovation, recognising that in the right environment having the latest technology is key – nearly 60% acknowledge that technology makes us more effective at our job."

The survey chimes with a recent poll in the US,in which McAfee, the computer security firm, found the great majority of Americans expect connected devices to be commonplace in the home and at work by 2025, yet 68% worry about the security implications.

Data sourced from KPMG; additional content by Warc staff