NewsNational News


Is your privacy really protected with your fitness tracker? A new proposed label could tell you that

The Federal Communications Commission is considering labeling smart products so you know the ones you can trust.
Posted at 12:57 PM, Mar 12, 2024

From home security cameras and internet-connected appliances to fitness trackers and baby monitors, there are so many smart products in our homes these days.

They can make our lives a lot more convenient.

But they can also come with security and privacy risks, and it can be hard to find that information yourself.

"They wanna know if their smart thermostat has a microphone. Like they wanna know is there a microphone? If there's a camera like that might impact where I put it in my house or I might know that I should, you know, put something in front of it," said Dr. Lorrie Faith Cranor with the Carnegie Mellon University Security and Privacy Institute.

The Federal Communications Commission is now considering labeling these products so you know the ones you can trust.

The commission will be voting on this on March 14.

We don't know a lot yet about what would be on the label if this is approved.

So far, the FCC is saying accredited labs would test smart products.

The ones that meet basic cybersecurity standards would have a Cyber Trust Mark logo.

That is kind of like the Energy Star logo that's on an appliance to tell you how energy-efficient it is before you buy it.

There would also be a QR code that you could scan to get details about the product's security.

That would include things like whether security updates or software patches for the product are automatic.

"By having these labels, the hope is that it will kind of raise the bar because companies are gonna be upfront about this. And you know they're not gonna want to look bad. So, they're gonna have some incentive to actually improve their security and privacy," said Cranor.

Cranor said she thinks well-known brands who make smart devices would get on board with the proposed labeling.

But the smaller companies that you may not have heard of may be more reluctant.

Here's some perspective on why all of this matters.

Computer security service provider Kaspersky estimates there were more than 1.5 billion attacks against smart devices in the first six months of 2021 alone.

The number of smart devices available is only expected to keep growing, along with that possible risk.