Exploring privacy implications of awareness and control mechanisms in smart home devices

Authors: Madiha Tabassum (University of North Carolina at Charlotte), Heather Lipford (University of North Carolina at Charlotte)

Volume: 2023
Issue: 1
Pages: 571–588
DOI: https://doi.org/10.56553/popets-2023-0033

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Abstract: Smart home users have a variety of controls they can use to configure their devices according to their preferences. However, it is unclear how people utilize these controls, what considerations they make, and the implications of those decisions for users' privacy. To address this gap, we have conducted two complimentary interview studies regarding the controls available for configuring, monitoring, and sharing collected information in two common smart home devices: a smart doorbell and a lock. We interviewed 21 non-owner participants in the lab and 18 owners of these devices over the phone. While both novice users and existing owners were primarily driven by desired functionality while setting up their devices, their configuration decisions impact what data gets collected and how that data and the device are used and shared. Our findings suggest a range of opportunities to improve the privacy-related features and support for smart home devices.

Keywords: Smart home, User controls, Privacy, Qualitative study

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