If you have smart devices in your home like a smart speaker or a smart appliance then you have given permission to a tech company to share your data. Consumers have given a level of trust to tech companies up until now but that may all be changing. The loss of trust and lack of transparency by Facebook will likely have far reaching effects and maybe none more than in the home automation and smart technology industry which is just in its infancy.
Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri and Samsung Bixby smart assistants all share personal data with app developers, it’s part of their user agreements. Some user agreements like Houzz' give ownership rights of your data to themselves — forever. Appliance companies like Samsung mine personal data from your smart devices like your refrigerator, washer/dryer and TV. In 2015 Samsung warned its SmartTV customers that every word they say in the same room as their SmartTV is being captured and sent over the Internet
Facebook and Instagram and other social media companies pass your personal data on to other entities such as app developers and you agreed to this in the user agreement. In some cases an honor system is in place between the software company and the app developer about sharing users’ data. We now know that that self-monitoring system isn't working out and tech companies’ sharing of personal data needs to be regulated. Facebook and their “partner” Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company, have misused personal data of 50 million Facebook users. Facebook has known about this issue for a long time but didn’t share it until this past weekend. This lack of transparency has compounded the negativity of the misuse of personal data and Facebook today is in crisis mode.
This Facebook debacle will hopefully shine a light on the need for a personal data bill of rights in the United States. This is particularly important for home automation and smart kitchens since this data is our most personal and intimate details of home life.
Mark Zuckerberg is being asked to appear in the US and the UK to answer for the misuse in sharing of the personal data of 50 million people. The European Union has a law on the books that will take effect on May 25, 2018. The USA has no one law — instead we have many laws and some conflict others.
Without up-to-date laws in place to guarantee the rights of individuals regarding their own personal data the home automation industry might find itself in a situation like the one Facebook finds itself in today. It’s time to open up dialogues about user rights and user agreements. It’s time to talk about and do something about trust and transparency in the home automation industry.