Trust TEE?: Exploring the Impact of Trusted Execution Environments on Smart Home Privacy Norms

Authors: Pratik Musale (University of Pittsburgh), Adam Lee (University of Pittsburgh)

Volume: 2023
Issue: 3
Pages: 5–23

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Abstract: IoT devices like smart cameras and speakers provide convenience but can collect sensitive information within private spaces. While research has investigated user perception of comfort with information flows originating from these types of devices, little focus has been given to the role of the sensing hardware in influencing these sentiments. Given the proliferation of trusted execution environments (TEEs) across commodity- and server-class devices, we surveyed 1049 American adults using the Contextual Integrity framework to understand how the inclusion of cloud-based TEEs in IoT ecosystems may influence comfort with data collection and use. We find that cloud-based TEEs significantly increase user comfort across information flows. These increases are more pronounced for devices manufactured by smaller companies and show that cloud-based TEEs can bridge the previously-documented gulfs in user trust between small and large companies. Sentiments around consent, bystander data, and indefinite retention are unaffected by the presence of TEEs, indicating the centrality of these norms.

Keywords: privacy, trusted hardware, trusted execution environment, contextual integrity

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