Household Users’ Security and Privacy Concerns about Shared Smart Speakers

With the rapid adoption of smart speakers in people’s homes, there is a corresponding increase in users’ privacy and security concerns. In contrast to previous studies of users’ concerns about smart speakers’ divulging private information to their manufacturers, we conducted a study to investigate users’ concerns with regard to housemates and external entities. To illustrate, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 26 participants living in 21 households.

Our findings reveal that participants were concerned primarily with their housemates’ inappropriate access to personal information, and the misuse of the device by unintended users. We corroborate findings reported by others that, among the perceived risks regarding external entities, the use of the data being collected by the company is the major concern. Despite expressing different concerns about external entities versus housemates, our participants adopted similar risk management strategies for both types of adversaries. The adoption of all-or-nothing strategies suggests the lack of effective risk management by the users.

We further provide recommendations for future speaker design to support more optimal coping with the perceived risks. First, the design should allow users to personalize their sharing preferences. Second, the voice recognition technology should be improved to reduce false positives to acceptable levels. Finally, optimal risk management methods should be effectively
communicated to end users

More details of the findings could be found in the paper: Amazon vs. My Brother: How Users of Shared Smart Speakers Perceive and Cope with Privacy Risks. The study will be presented in April at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Honolulu.