ISLAMABAD-Smart phone users expressed their concerns regarding lack of security, privacy and choice over the use of products, a statement said on Thursday.

According to a survey conducted by The Network for Consumer Protection to commemorate WCRD, a whopping 83% of the university students said that they had not allowed the telecom service providers to access their personal information. Despite the fact that all telecom providers have clauses to access and share a consumer’s personal information, 84% of the students said that they did not think that by signing the contract with telecom providers, they allow the providers to share it with the third party. In the survey, 500 students of different universities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi were contacted about their concerns related to the use of smart phones. Of the 150 million mobile phones users in Pakistan, 77 per cent of smart phone users are between 21 to 30 years old. It is predicted that by 2025, 72% of internet users will be accessing the internet exclusively via mobile. Around half of these new users will come from China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan. The Network is a member of Consumer International, a UK-based umbrella organisation of 200 members from more than 100 countries.

A 2018 global consumer study of the CI revealed that 52% of users were more concerned about their online privacy compared to one year ago. While 43% of respondents from a different survey said that they wanted to know more about the data collected about them via their connected devices and 47% worried about identity theft. A significant data privacy risk arises from devices being able (and indeed designed) to communicate with each other and to transfer data autonomously to third parties. Objects within a connected system may collect data or information that is innocuous on its own but which, when collated and analysed with other information, could reveal quite accurate knowledge of an individual resulting in increased user-traceability and profiling.

A smart product can connect, share and interact with its user and other devices. Smart products connect to the internet via different communication connections. The most popular consumer smart products are smart phones, games consoles, smart TVs, wearable health trackers, thermostats, toys and cars. These devices are capable of collecting and analysing user data and transmitting it to other connected devices in a network. Net orks of smart products are also known as the Internet of Things (IoT).

Nadeem Iqbal, The Network CEO, said that as smart products were part of larger connected systems which can be used by hackers to access larger public systems and infrastructure and putting consumers’ personal information and safety at risk. Several high-profile privacy and data breaches have heightened consumers’ lack of trust in smart products. For example, in 2016, nearly 65,000 smart devices were infected in 24 hours, gaining access through insecure printers, home Wi-Fi routers and baby monitors.