Privacy Concerns about Smart Home Devices: A Comparative Analysis between Non-Users and Users

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Chola ChhetriVivian Genaro Motti

Abstract: Privacy concerns of smart home device (SHD) users have been largely explored but those of non-users are under-explored. The success of smart home technology comes to fruition only when concerns of both users and non-users are addressed. Understanding of non-user concerns is essential to inform the design of user-centric privacy-preserving SHDs, facilitate acceptance, and bridge the digital divide between non-users and users. To address this gap, we conducted a survey of SHD non-users and comparatively analyzed their privacy concerns with those of users.Methods: We used university email list-servs, snowball sampling and random sampling methods to recruit participants (n=91) for an IRB-approved online survey, titled ‘smart home study’. Our pre-tested questionnaire asked about SHD (non-)usage, privacy concerns (open-ended), suggestions for developers and demographics. We followed a mixed-methods approach to analyze privacy concerns (qualitative/thematic), explore non-use reasons (qualitative/thematic), compare non-users and users concerns (quantitative), and analyze design suggestions (qualitative/thematic). Results: Thematic analysis of privacy concerns of non-users (n=41) and users (n=50) by two researchers performing open-coding (Cohen’s kappa = 0.8) resulted in 17 codes. We then performed axial coding to generate three thematic areas of privacy concerns. The first theme was ‘data collection concerns’ which included five codes: recording audio/video, tracking occupancy, listening to private conversations, monitoring usage/behavior, and identity theft. The second theme was ‘data sharing concerns’ which included four codes: selling data, third party data access, leakage without consent, and marketing data. The third theme was ‘data protection concerns’ which included eight codes: hacking, data handling, protecting data, secondary use, aggregation, data abuse, data loss, and fraud. The three privacy concerns themes belong to the personal communication and personal data privacy dimensions of privacy. Chi-square test between non-users and users showed the privacy concerns of non-users differed significantly (X2=8.46, p<0.05) from users. Non-users reported higher level of concerns in data collection and data protection themes than those of users (46% vs 24% and 34% vs 30% respectively). However, non-users reported fewer concerns in the data sharing theme than those of users (15% vs 28% respectively).Most non-users reported their non-use reason to be privacy concerns (68%). Other non-use reasons included lack of interest in SHDs (32%), cost (22%), lack of perceived usefulness (12%), insecurity or potential of hacking (10%), and perceived difficulty of usage (7%).The thematic analysis of participants’ suggestions for developers resulted in four main themes: (a) data anonymization and minimization, (b) data protection and security, (c) transparent data use policies, and (d) user-centric practices. Based on our findings, we recommend that developers address the data collection and data protection concerns to allow SHD non-users to consider using them. In addition, we recommend addressing data sharing concerns to retain trust of current users. We discuss some guidelines in the paper.Conclusion: This paper contributes by eliciting SHD non-user privacy concerns and provides insights on addressing the concerns, which will be useful for developers towards the design of user-centric privacy-preserving SHDs.

Keywords: User studies, Non-User, Privacy

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002207

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