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Mozilla: Consumers should wake up to privacy issues from ‘eerie’ wearables and connected home tech

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Non-profit foundation wants consumers to care more about privacy issues created by smart technology

Wearable tech and smart home technology should finally wake consumers up to the issues of privacy in the technology industry, according to Mozilla. Speaking at the Panasonic Convention in Frankfurt, Mozilla’s chief technology officer, Andreas Gal explained that the shift to smart watches, TVs and thermostats, should finally create some demands for privacy from consumers.

He said that markets such as Germany have a good understanding of privacy issues, but many other countries have some catching up to do. “In the US, for example, privacy isn’t understood and most people do not understand the implications of uploading all their photos to Pinterest and Facebook,” he said.”What does it mean for a corporation to know about every flight you take in your life?”

Andreas Gal, Mozilla CTO at Panasonic Convention 2015He explained that consumers have a harder time understanding the privacy problems caused by less personal devices such as laptops and PCs: “A laptop is a different context: a box that sits on the table that uploads some data is very different to when you’re sitting on your sofa watching TV and your TV is watching you back. This is when things get more eerie and disturbing: you’re at home in your PJs and your TV is watching you and your Nest on the wall is watching you.”

Gal said Mozilla hopes that with technology now infiltrating every part of consumers’ lives, they will start demanding more from tech firms.

“When things are happening so close to you in your home or even on your body, it helps people understand what’s happening to their data.

“We hope people will become more aware, saying ‘I want you to design a product that takes care of my privacy in my home,'” he continued. “We hope there will be a stronger demand from consumers that give them the option to control their own data.”

Meanwhile, consumers continue to lap up fairly opaque smartwatches, fitness trackers and smart home tech. So far, at least, privacy remains an afterthought for many consumers who are more interested in tech that provides a seamless service.