Seduction by Technology: Why Consumers Opt Out of Privacy by Buying into the Internet of Things

Note - Volume 94 - Issue 5

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an ever-growing system of personal technology devices that communicate with each other.  In so communicating, these devices relay information that is extremely personal to each individual user and is capable of doing great harm.  Despite the potential for harm, consumers continue to purchase these devices.  By doing so, they trade away their long-term privacy for the short-term benefit of using a device.paragraphOne possible reason as to why consumers are willing to trade away their privacy is because they are unaware of the amount of privacy being lost.  But even if consumers were made aware of the loss, they would still engage in privacy-sacrificing behaviors.  Behavioral economists have proven that people will both underestimate their risk of harm and prefer a short-term gain to a long-term risk.  These two theories help to explain why consumers are willing to trade away their privacy by purchasing IoT devices and should therefore be considered when legislators and policymakers begin regulating the Internet of Things.

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