In April 2016, Consumers International published Connection and Protection in the Digital Age: The Internet of Things and challenges for consumer protection. The report looked at the current and future applications of Internet of Things technologies and the risks and opportunities these pose to consumers. It also considered the extent to which existing consumer protection frameworks are able to address and remedy potential problems. The research showed that while the benefits of greater connections are becoming apparent, some risks are already creating problems for consumers. Some of these problems come from existing consumer issues being exacerbated by the increased connections in the Internet of Things, and some are quite new. The table overleaf summarizes the challenges. The report concluded that unless we begin to fully understand the emerging risks and mitigate them through appropriate protections, these issues will become the norm. This could create detriment and greatly reduce consumer trust and participation.
Since 2016, when that report was published, Consumers International has carried out a brief review and update of the findings. This 2017 review is not a comprehensive review of the entire 2016 report, but a brief look at whether trends are playing out as predicted, whether consumers are experiencing both positive opportunities and detriments from the Internet of Things, and how policy makers, industry and advocates are responding to some of the challenges. The report begins with a review of the consumer Internet of Things market developments, a review of the latest research on consumer attitudes, and a look at what policy and industry responses have emerged in the last year and a half. It concludes by asking how to effectively respond to the challenges and opportunities, and work towards better outcomes for consumers in the digital world.
Link to publication