Are You Sitting Comfortably? Opportunities, Security Challenges and Privacy Implications of Living Room Connected Devices
The modern home is an increasingly connected place. The market for smart TVs, games consoles and other devices is expected to grow significantly, driven by technological innovation. Many of these devices can connect, though wireless networks, to the Internet and content hosted in the cloud. Demand for content that can be accessed through these devices is dependent upon high-speed, quality broadband infrastructure.
Ofcom commissioned RAND Europe to investigate the privacy and security concerns of the Internet-connected living room, the threats to consumers and the challenges for industry. The evidence for this study was gathered from published literature, market assessment, interviews with key stakeholders and RAND Europe’s expertise in cyber security research.
Our research concluded that the Internet is affecting existing distribution channels and value chains in broadcasting and provision of content. Convergence between devices that previous had discrete functions (such as TVs, games consoles or radios) is also driving these changes. There are some potentially complex security and privacy risks arising from these phenomena, including:
- Forms of fraud already seen more generally on the Internet (e.g. ‘phishing’ or identity theft);
- Use of Internet-enabled living room technologies as a springboard for other forms of cybercrime (or cyber attack);
- Opportunities for abuse of vulnerable people (especially children);
- Longer-term economic impacts for industry;
- Implications for privacy, caused by commercial practices regarding consent, transparency or accountability for the uses of personal data collected through the Internet-enabled living room.
However, all this convergence is not yet self-managing. Consumers still have to configure their devices — and making them properly secure requires knowledge, although suppliers are trying to make the process simpler. It is not clear whether consumers understand the differing functionalities between similar applications on their smart TV, games console or second screen, which could make them vulnerable. From the perspective of the exercise of their privacy rights, too, managing and exercising control over personal data used in the Internet-connected living room is challenging. This is because it is not always clear which service provider is collecting your personal information, why, what use they want to put it to and what you can do if you disagree.
Success in addressing these developments in such an innovative area will require monitoring of the market and the adoption of better practices and behaviours relating to security and privacy, by both industry and consumers. Progress will need to be made to prevent these emergent risks from de-railing the exciting opportunities presented by the Internet-connected living room.