MPs launch inquiry into smart home speakers and connected tech

The DCMS Committee said it would look into the benefits and threats associated with the technology.
The DCMS Committee said it would look into the benefits and threats associated with the technology.

MPs are to investigate the increasing popularity and impact of connected devices such as smart speakers and what needs to be done to ensure they are safe and secure to use.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee said it will use a new inquiry to explore how devices such as smart hubs, powered by virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri, as well as wearable tech, have reshaped life in homes and workplaces.

Such devices are marketed as smart assistants able to help users multi-task more easily and better organise their lives, as well as stay informed, improve accessibility and aid connectivity.

Devices such as Amazon’s Echo range of smart home hubs have become hugely popular in recent years, while many gadgets now include the ability to use a voice-activated virtual assistant.

However, there have been concerns raised in the past about user privacy and data collection, while the Committee said it also wanted to look into security concerns and the possible hacking of such gadgets.

MPs said they would look into both the benefits and the threats of the technology, as well as their impact on different parts of society.

Conservative MP Julian Knight, who chairs the DCMS Committee, 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.”