Security & Fraud

Consumer Reports To Start Rating Security, Privacy Of Connected Devices

Consumer Reports announced Monday (Mar. 6) that it is gearing up to rate consumer appliances based on their security and privacy.

According to a blog post by Consumer Reports, the moves to include this new rating comes as a recent CR Consumer Voices survey found 65 percent of Americans are slightly or completely not confident their personal data is secure and isn’t distributed without their knowledge.

“We think it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect consumers to constantly play defense when the products and services they use aren’t engineered with basic privacy and security protections built in,” Consumer Reports said in the post.

The new ratings, said Consumer Reports, are aimed at helping consumers get a better understanding of their digital products so they can protect their privacy and security and have more control over their personal and secure personal data.

“We know we’re not the first ones to try to move digital products and services in the direction of greater privacy and security. In the past couple of years, efforts have been launched by both government agencies and other private organizations to pull together guidelines, but these have usually been narrowly focused on a single area, such as privacy policies or the security of connected devices. None of them has gained wide support. And some protections are actively being rolled back,” it argued in the post.

To launch this new ratings service, Consumer Reports said it’s been collaborating with several partners to create standards for data privacy and security. Consumer Reports’ privacy standard calls on companies to require consumers to choose unique usernames and passwords during the setup whether it’s a baby monitor connected to the internet or a washing machine that is connected wirelessly. That is a simple level of security that is applied to online bank accounts, and Consumer Reports said it thinks it should also apply to connected appliances and other devices.

“The new standard also calls on companies to delete consumer data from their servers upon request, to protect personal data with encryption as the data is sent through the internet and to be completely transparent about how personal consumer information is shared with other companies,” the consumer watchdog said.

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