UK Privacy Regulator Issues Black Friday Smart Device Warning

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The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has urged shoppers to investigate the privacy and security credentials of any smart technologies they’re planning to buy this Black Friday.

The data protection regulator, which is currently reviewing the tech category before issuing new guidance next year, warned that many buyers may unwittingly put their personal data at risk.

It issued a set of tips for smart gadget buyers ahead of the busy sales period, which begins next weekend.

“Before adding your chosen device to your basket, you should look at how it plans to use your data. Privacy policies can be daunting, but skimming the section on data collection should give you all the information you need,” it explained.

“You can also review permissions in the app store to check if you’re comfortable with the data that your device will want to access.”

Read more on smart technology threats: Smart Home Experiences Over 12,000 Cyber-Attacks in a Week

Once the device has arrived, the ICO urged users to:

  • Use its privacy controls and app permissions to manage access to personal information, such as location
  • Enable regular updates of the device
  • Choose a strong, unique password based on three random, memorable words
  • Only consent to data sharing with known and trusted companies
  • Limit any personal data being shared for advertising purposes in the smartphone privacy settings

“We know that consumers want to enjoy the benefits of smart devices but that they also value their privacy in an increasingly connected world,” said information commissioner, John Edwards.

“They shouldn’t have to choose between the two. These tips from our tech experts will help consumers to make informed purchases and have more control over how their personal data is being used.”

Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at consumer rights group Which? also urged shoppers to be wary about smart technology. She cited previous research from the group which found many manufacturers are collecting more data than they need and hiding the fact in lengthy T&Cs.

“Make sure you have researched the product you’re thinking of buying, steer clear of any that have concerning security flaws and check to see how you can control the data the device is able to access or collect,” she added.

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