Privacy, schmivacy: 2 in 3 Americans don’t care if their smart devices are recording them

NEW YORK — Are the ads popping up in your smart device a little too spot on? Is it an eerie coincidence or are your smartphones and smart speakers listening in on everything you say in private? Privacy issues are a constant concern when it comes to digital technology, but a new survey finds many Americans are simply accepting they may not be alone in their own home. Researchers say two in three U.S. adults “don’t care” if their smart devices are always listening to what they say. The report by Safety.com finds 66.7 percent of U.S. residents over 18 wouldn’t have a problem finding out a home gadget is listening in on what’s going on inside their home. Researchers polled nearly 1,100 people between the ages of 18 and 64 during December of 2020. While tech companies repeatedly assure the public smart devices are not spying on their owners, not everyone is convinced of this. That feeling is particularly prevalent among older adults. The survey finds baby boomers are much more concerned about digital devices recording their conservations than Millennials or young adults in Generation Z. Adults in Generation X are split on the issue.
The poll also finds women are more unnerved about smart devices than men are, by a margin of seven percent. Unsurprisingly, residents in tech-dominant cities and regions are more accepting of potentially being recorded than Americans in communities with less high-tech development.

Not reading the fine print on smart devices

The Safety.com team says modern technology, capable of tracking every move we make, is becoming an unavoidable part of daily life. From smart speakers in the kitchen to smart cameras in the doorbell, this technology is built to record, watch, or listen to information in real time.

Although many might wonder how their interests end up in the next commercial their speakers play, researchers note few Americans really go through the terms and services agreement when downloading their various apps. They add skipping these privacy notices has actually become second nature to many tech users. Therefore, do many people really know how much data they’re agreeing to share with companies?

The poll finds the general sentiment regarding privacy and technology is “if someone isn’t guilty of anything, then what difference does it make if they’re being listened to?”

Digital amenities outweigh privacy concerns

As legal and privacy experts continue to debate how ethical that sentiment is, Safety.com finds more and more people are choosing convenience over their own privacy. This is especially true when it comes to owning smartphones.

Researchers estimate that around about 290 million smartphones in the U.S., or a staggering 80 percent of the consumer market. America ranks third among countries with the most smartphones.

The survey does find that more people are still a little wary of putting smart devices in their home. There are about 90 million smart speakers currently in American homes or vehicles, or about a third of the population.

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