smart home speaker voice assistant

MPs launch security inquiry into connected devices

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The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee will investigate the increasing popularity and impact of connected devices such as smart speakers and make recommendations to ensure they are safe and secure to use.

Connected devices such as smart speakers and virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri, as well as wearable tech, have become hugely popular in recent years, reshaping life in homes and workplaces.

Such devices are marketed as smart assistants able to help users multi-task more easily and better organise their lives, as well as stay informed, improve accessibility and aid connectivity. Moreover, connected devices present in peoples' homes increasingly include the ability to use a voice-activated virtual assistant.

However, there have been concerns raised in the past about user privacy and data collection. In addition, the Committee said it also wanted to look into security concerns and the possible hacking of such gadgets, in light of the recent rise in the number of detected cyber attacks and online scams. 

MPs said they would look into both the benefits and the threats of the technology, as well as their impact on different parts of society.

“The innocent little box sitting inconspicuously in the corner of the room would seem to offer the ultimate in convenience, magically serving up information on demand, turning on lights or delivering a vast array of music," said Conservative MP Julian Knight, Chair of the Committee. 

Despite the many benefits of smart household set-ups, Knight highlighted the security risks posed by these devices, with users potentially sacrificing privacy, being put at risk of cybercrime, or even left open to uncovering harmful content online.

“Our inquiry will examine the risks and rewards from the rising popularity of connected tech in the home and beyond, whether it should be properly designed to protect everyone in society and to what extent the current rules governing smart technology are fit for a rapidly changing future,” he added. 

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