Skip to Content

Should IoT Devices Come with Public Safety Warnings?

October 13, 2017

You know, like the ones on cigarette packets.

There’s certainly a strong argument to be made for it as an idea. Whether it’s hackers taking control of cars, childrens’ toys, or vast swaths of devices as an Internet-crippling botnet of things, connected gadgets are not what you’d call totally locked down. Security experts have even warned Congress that the Internet of things could actually kill people.

That’s the kind of thinking that inspired online security coach Troy Hunt to mock up a series of updated ads for connected devices that clarify just what consumers are letting themselves in for when they buy them. The example shown above is, remarkably, accurate: Standard Innovation, the maker of the Internet-connected We-Vibe vibrator, was forced to settle a lawsuit for $3 million when one of its users took it to court for collecting “sensitive” personal data without her consent.

Hunt isn’t the first to suggest that some form of IoT security warning would benefit consumers. Earlier this year, a British police chief suggested that companies should publish a security rating on their products, much as they’re required to list energy efficiency ratings in many countries.

Neither idea is likely to prove particularly appealing to device manufacturers, and arguably the second suggestion would be hard to implement, not least because of the slippery nature of defining a device’s security. But both would go some way to raising public awareness that a life filled with connected devices is a life that can be more easily recorded by nefarious types.

And until that happens, consumers will continue to buy hardware and connect it to the Internet with little idea of how secure it really is.

Deep Dive


Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot
Uber Autonomous Vehicles parked in a lot

It will soon be easy for self-driving cars to hide in plain sight. We shouldn’t let them.

If they ever hit our roads for real, other drivers need to know exactly what they are.

stock art of market data
stock art of market data

Maximize business value with data-driven strategies

Every organization is now collecting data, but few are truly data driven. Here are five ways data can transform your business.

Cryptocurrency fuels new business opportunities

As adoption of digital assets accelerates, companies are investing in innovative products and services.

Mifiprex pill
Mifiprex pill

Where to get abortion pills and how to use them

New US restrictions could turn abortion into do-it-yourself medicine, but there might be legal risks.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.