Sunday, December 10, 2017
Business

Can you place a price on privacy?

Would you hand over information about when you're in your house — and in what rooms — for the promise of lower energy bills? That's one of the hypotheticals laid out in a new report from Pew Research Center, which found that more than half of the 461 adults it surveyed couldn't stomach the idea.

But thermostats collecting personal data is not a hypothetical. In fact, by 2017, more than half of the thermostats sold in the United States will be of the "smart" variety, according to market research firm Parks Associates.

In its latest report, Pew laid out a handful of different situations to help understand how people judge these tradeoffs.

Indeed, a recent Accenture study of 28,000 consumers in 28 countries found that security and privacy concerns are among the top reasons why people did not buy smart home and wearable products. Nearly half of respondents, 47 percent, cited this concern.

Another Pew scenario elicited a different response: If someone was stealing personal belongings from work, would it be okay if the company installed a camera system to catch the thief ? By a 2-to-1 ratio — 54 percent to 24 percent — respondents found that arrangement acceptable.

The focus groups suggested that some respondents may have been driven by thoughts about who ultimately gets to make the final call in that scenario, not the actual privacy stakes.

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