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MPs to examine implications of rising popularity of connected tech

12 May 2022

The DCMS Committee will examine the impacts of the increasing prevalence of smart and connected technology and what needs to be done to ensure it is safe and secure for its users.

The Connected tech: smart or sinister? inquiry will explore how devices including smart speakers, virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri and wearable tech such as Fitbits, are reshaping life in homes and workplaces and across towns and cities.

Cited benefits of connected tech include helping people manage their time, multi-task, reduce screen time and improve accessibility to services and standards of living. There are however also concerns that devices linked to the internet could lead people to access harmful content, be open to hacking and infringe on privacy and data protection rights.

The Committee will look into both the benefits and threats of the technology, as well as its impact on specific groups of society, how safe and secure design can be incentivised and whether existing legislation is sufficient to cope with its expansion.

Chair's comment

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: “The innocent little box sitting inconspicuously in the corner of the room would seem to offer the ultimate in convenience, magically serving up information on demand, turning on lights or delivering a vast array of music. With such a smart set-up connected to the outside world however there is always the danger it will have a more sinister side, with users potentially sacrificing privacy, put at risk of cybercrime, or left open to uncovering harmful content online.

Our inquiry will examine the risks and rewards from the rising popularity of connected tech in the home and beyond, whether it should be properly designed to protect everyone in society and to what extent the current rules governing smart technology are fit for a rapidly changing future.”

Terms of reference

The DCMS Committee is inviting written evidence on the following questions by Thursday 23rd June.

  • What has been or will be the most important impacts of increasingly prevalent smart and connected technology in our lives, including in the home, in the workplace and in our towns and cities, and are they necessarily better than current systems?
  • Are there any groups in society who may particularly benefit from or be vulnerable to the increasing prevalence of smart technology, such as young or elderly people, people with disabilities and people likely to be digitally excluded?
  • How can we incentivise or encourage design that is safe, secure, environmentally- and user-friendly and human rights compliant?
  • What are the key short- and long-term risks and threats, and how can we ensure the devices, systems and networks of individuals, businesses and organisations are digitally-literate and cyber secure?
  • How will current geopolitical concerns influence domestic consumers, e.g. regarding standards of imported goods or in how we can deal with cyber threats?
  • Do existing frameworks, like data protection legislation and the Public Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill, adequately address concerns with smart technology, and if not, how could they be changed?

Further information

Image: UK Parliament/Tyler Allicock