- Americans are comfortable living in smart cities with smart devices in their homes. However, a vast majority want control over the data collected from them in public spaces, according to a new poll from Axios and SurveyMonkey.
- The poll found that 70% of Americans are "comfortable" with devices like speakers, appliances and thermostats that could connect to the internet. Nearly two-thirds (65%) also said they are comfortable in a city with connected infrastructure.
- When it comes to data, 87% said they want to control how much personal location information is collected about them in public spaces. Similarly, 82% said they want to control collection of personal shopping data, and 81% said they want to control personal transportation data.
The poll is another reminder of the tension between convenience and privacy. As governments have installed more internet of things (IoT) sensors and monitors around cities to gather data to support smart city initiatives, there’s been some pushback about how data is collected and stored.
The findings of the Axios and SurveyMonkey poll are in line with other recent findings about concerns over connected devices and cities. A survey released last month by the Internet Society and conducted by IPSOS Mori found that 65% of respondents were concerned with how connected devices gather data. Another 63% said they find IoT devices to be “creepy.”
The concerns could have major implications for companies and cities alike as they rapidly expand data collection. This has played out as Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs develops its Quayside smart city project in Toronto, which would be a test case for cutting-edge technology. Amid concerns about how it would monitor citizens and whether data collected would be secure, public approval has been mixed and organizers have had to take several steps to assure citizens their data would be safe.
Governments have also been pushing back. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Security held a hearing on IoT security last month to examine what role the federal government could play in regulating the technology.
California legislators are considering a bill that would bar companies from saving, storing or sharing data collected from smart speakers without written consent, and San Francisco passed a measure banning government use of facial recognition technology in response to privacy concerns. There is also a bipartisan U.S. Senate bill that would require consumer consent for facial recognition data.
The results were collected through an online SurveyMonkey poll conducted in May 2019 among a national sample of 3,044 adults, weighted to reflect the demographics of the overall United States.