UK public fears advance of internet-enabled devices amid security concerns

UK consumers fear technology is overtaking their lives

KPMG's latest survey reveals a growing fear amongst consumers about the increasing prevalence of technology and greater surveillance of their personal lives.

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UK consumers fear that technology is overtaking their lives, with many increasingly concerned about the pace of change they face, according to the latest KPMG survey. Results also highlight discomfort with the greater surveillance of everyday life and a cynicism about the need for connected devices.

KPMG surveyed over 1,600 consumers across the UK to identify attitudes towards the ‘Internet of Things’ – the term used to describe devices which ‘speak’ to each other over the internet. It aimed to gauge their views around intrusiveness, security and the value of connected devices. 

More than half (58 percent) resent the idea that computers seem to run their lives “wherever I go” and 70 percent suggest that with the marketplace flooded by inter-connected devices, it’s too easy for things to go wrong. The survey goes on to reveal that UK consumers are hankering after a return to ‘simple’ technology. Many, for example, mainly want their phone only to make calls (54 percent) and the majority think that more advanced internet-based products such as smart fridges which self-order food or cookers reminding owners about recipes weren’t seen as necessary.

Yet, respondents are quick to recognise that inter-connected devices can bring benefits, with 48 percent welcoming the idea that smart meters can save energy and money. Four in 10 also suggest that health monitors which issue warnings about impending illness are a good idea and 46 percent want to use security systems to monitor their property whilst away from home.

Wil Rockall, a director in KPMG’s Cyber Security practice, says: “It is clear that consumers are struggling with a desire to use connected devices as a route towards an easier life, but they remain wary of the rise of the machine. They still support innovation, recognising that in the right environment having the latest technology is key - nearly 60% acknowledge that technology makes us more effective at our job.” 

Asked why they are cynical about the advance of the Internet of Things, respondents questioned how it’s possible to keep personal information private, with 56% of those polled concerned about a “Big Brother” effect occurring as a result of these products and the pace at which they are being produced and implemented. In a work environment, more than one-third (36 percent) suggested employers are monitoring their every action. 

Mark Thompson, a senior manager in KPMG’s Cyber Security practice adds: “Security and privacy are high on the list of worries for the consumer with 62% believing that there is insufficient concern about it. The fact remains that where once an Englishman’s home was considered to be his castle the advent of the Internet of Things means that fortress walls can be breached more easily. There are also so many opportunities for the latest technologies to provide value and enhance our lives but we are failing to take advantage of them and we will continue in that vein until consumers can be convinced that always-connected devices are safe and worthwhile.” 


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Nahidur Rahman, KPMG Press Office

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About KPMG 

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 11,500 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.8 billion in the year ended September 2013. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 155,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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