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Internet Safety Labs Report: Consumers Don’t Recognize


SAN DIEGO, March 05, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — – Internet Safety Labs, a non-profit technology product safety watchdog, today announced a new report, “Consumer Attitudes Towards Product Safety: Physical Consumer Goods vs. Internet Connected Products.” The findings reveal that while product safety is overwhelmingly important to consumers and they acknowledge that internet-connected products have privacy risks, they fail to recognize the second-order harms associated with these internet-connected products and services. When it comes to product safety, there’s a double standard among consumers for connected vs. unconnected products.

Many consumers appear unaware of the causal connection between personal and societal harms such as physical, emotional, reputational, and financial damage and the systemic loss of privacy tied to connected products and services. This massive disconnect illustrates a need for significant educational efforts to encourage people to think beyond “privacy risks” or “data breaches” when it comes to today’s technology and consider the more wide-reaching implications.

Additional Key Findings:

  • Somewhat fewer consumers say product safety is important for internet-connected products (86.2% of survey respondents) compared to physical consumer goods (96.8%).
  • People see clothing, furniture and groceries as the safest consumer goods. Cleaning products, automobiles and personal care products are viewed as the least safe consumer goods.
  • For internet-connected products, people see e-books, smart TVs, and health devices as the safest, and websites, smart automobiles and smart homes (with mobile apps close behind) as the least safe.
    • Even though survey respondents didn’t score mobile apps as the least safe option, consumers are more concerned about app safety than other internet-connected products. People may think app stores are mitigating app risks. This finding supports ISL’s mission to provide safety labels for all mobile apps. (https://appmicroscope.org).
  • Consumers frequently associate the following risks with internet-connected products:
    • Automated decision-making
    • Technology addiction
    • Sharing/selling of personal data by 3rd parties.
  • People were somewhat more likely to hold companies/manufacturers responsible for consumer products’ safety than internet-connected products.
    • Consumers are more willing to accept responsibility for the safety of complex technology. Internet Safety Labs (ISL) finds this interesting because there are objectively fewer resources available to help people understand the safety risks of internet-connected products.
  • Despite these findings, a large majority (85.7%) of people surveyed believed that companies should perform product safety testing on internet-connected products. Nearly 40% of respondents thought that companies were already performing product safety testing (which isn’t the case for most mobile apps and websites).

“We were interested in understanding why consumers don’t hold internet-based technologies to the same product safety standards as traditional consumer goods. The research makes clear that consumers don’t recognize the real risks behind mass data collection,” said Lisa LeVasseur, executive director of Internet Safety Labs. “We were surprised to see consumers willingly accept product safety responsibility for virtually unknowable internet-connected products.”

“Consumer Attitudes Towards Product Safety: Physical Consumer Goods vs. Internet Connected Products,” was funded with support from the Internet Society Foundation and included 882 survey participants utilizing U.S. census-based balancing for gender and age. The respondents were aged 18 to 60.

Internet Safety Labs invites experts, business leaders and individuals interested in advancing standards for software product safety and ethical Internet practices to visit its website to learn more about how to work with ISL.

About Internet Safety Labs
Internet Safety Labs is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit technology product safety watchdog, unrelentingly on the side of consumers and their safety. Through standards development, product research, product audits and policy advocacy, we work to ensure software product safety. We believe it’s time for software and software-driven products to be tested with the same safety rigor we apply to all the physical products in our lives. For more information, please visit https://internetsafetylabs.org/.

PR Contact:
Sherlyn Rijos-Altman
Montner Tech PR
srijos@montner.com



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