UK consumers are concerned about voice assistant privacy

Voice assistants on devices such as smartphones are being widely used, despite 72 per cent of UK consumers being concerned about how their data is collected and used.

This is according to new research from one of Europe’s largest online electrical retailers, reichelt elektronik. 

The survey of UK consumers, carried out in January 2019 by OnePoll, revealed that nearly half of Brits (49 per cent) believe safety and privacy worries need to be sorted before the technology becomes more commonplace, as only six per cent plan to buy a smart home voice assistant in 2019.

Security is the biggest hurdle to overcome for brands; even those who already use these digital assistants are worried: 

• 72 per cent are concerned about misuse of data/where data is stored

• 56 per cent are concerned communication is monitored

• 48 per cent are worried about the risk of hacker attacks

Another barrier is the perceived utility of smart assistants. Well over half of consumers (63 per cent) still don’t see why they would be useful in their everyday life. There is some way to go for brands to communicate the applications, such as controlling music, grocery shopping or controlling smart heating and lighting. Internet research, listening to music and organisational tasks are the top three current uses for voice assistants. 

Thomas Kruse, product manager at reichelt elektronik, commented: “Voice assistants on devices such as smartphones or smart home speakers are great pieces of technology that can make our lives easier, but in the wake of data breaches and hacker attacks technology companies and retailers need to communicate security messages better.

“There are steps users can take to improve their personal security when it comes to using technology, but brands and retailers have a role to play in helping to inform and educate customers on how to stay safe.” 

The research also highlighted that it is older generations who are driving demand in the market, with 10 per cent of 45-54-year-olds planning on buying a device in the next 12 months. Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa are currently used the most by 25-34-year olds.