Mozilla finds IoT optimism, privacy fears clash

A new study reveals that consumers worldwide are divided over the future of connected devices.

Video: Networked future excites the tech savvy, scares everyone else

The Mozilla Foundation has released the results of a new study that claims that while consumers are ready to use mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, users remain divided in opinion over a connected future.

On Wednesday, Mozilla revealed the results of the survey, of which 190,000 people from dozens of countries participated.

The research found that the more tech savvy people are, the more optimistic they feel about a connected future but the loss of privacy worries citizens worldwide.

According to the research, respondents who identified themselves as proficient with technology were the most likely to be optimistic about a connected future, while those who considered themselves least proficient -- 31 percent in total -- said they were "scared as hell" of the idea.

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Mozilla

Respondents in India, Mexico, and Brazil stood out as being the most optimistic about the benefits of connected technologies, while those in Belgium, France, the UK, Switzerland, and the US were more likely to express concerns.

With the exception of Italy, 45 percent of respondents worldwide said they feared a loss of privacy above all else. Italy, however, was concerned with the loss of connections with other people.

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Mozilla

Those who were excited about a connected future believe that life will be made easier, according to 26.7 percent of respondents, and in India, 32 percent were looking forward to potential educational benefits most.

According to Mozilla, one-third of respondents believe that it is up to vendors and manufacturers to ensure their IoT and mobile devices are secure -- but roughly the same amount believe that it is the responsibility of the user. The remainder of survey participants said it is up to governments or were not sure where to assign responsibility.

It appears that despite such concerns, the use of IoT and mobile devices is common and different countries have varying tastes when it comes to IoT technology. In total, 50 percent of respondents from Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico said they owned a smart TV -- in comparison to 40 percent as a worldwide average -- while the US reported the highest ownership of fitness trackers, smart cars, and Wi-Fi-connected thermostats.

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Mozilla

India and Brazil were most likely to own smart appliances.

In addition, respondents from the US, Canada, and the UK reported owning a laptop more commonly than owning a smartphone, while outside of these countries, smartphone ownership was more likely than ownership of a laptop.

With IoT devices commonly embroiled in stories that place user privacy at risk, cases where law enforcement request access to recorded data in the home -- such as a recent story connected to the Amazon Echo -- and search engines including Shodan showing us just how lax some IoT security practices are, individuals have a right to worry.

However, we do choose which mobile and IoT devices to use, and so there is likely always going to be a trade-off between privacy and convenience.

Mozilla has made the bulk data of the survey available to download under a CC license.

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