USENIX Security 2022
Conference paper

Smart Home Privacy Policies Demystified: A Study of Availability, Content, and Coverage

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Smart home devices transmit highly sensitive usage information to servers owned by vendors or third-parties as part of their core functionality. Hence, it is necessary to provide users with the context in which their device data is collected and shared, to enable them to weigh the benefits of deploying smart home technology against the resulting loss of privacy. As privacy policies are generally expected to precisely convey this information, we perform a systematic and data-driven analysis of the current state of smart home privacy policies, with a particular focus on three key questions: (1) how hard privacy policies are for consumers to obtain, (2) how existing policies describe the collection and sharing of device data, and (3) how accurate these descriptions are when compared to information derived from alternate sources. Our analysis of 596 smart home vendors, affecting 2,442 smart home devices yields 17 findings that impact millions of users, demonstrate gaps in existing smart home privacy policies, as well as challenges and opportunities for automated analysis.