Alexa’s data hold ‘locks cus­tomers in’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Han­nah Boland

GOOGLE and Ama­zon are “lock­ing cus­tomers in” to their smart home de­vices and fit­ness track­ers, and pre­vent­ing them from switch­ing brands, re­searchers have claimed.

In a re­port on con­nected de­vices, UCL sci­en­tists said its re­search sug­gested that cus­tomers were un­able to get hold of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that had been col­lected by fit­ness track­ers and smart home hubs in or­der to move it to a ri­val.

Such de­vices can store ev­ery­thing from the num­ber of steps users are tak­ing each day, to ques­tions peo­ple have asked smart as­sis­tants.

Un­der EU data pri­vacy laws, Euro­pean cit­i­zens should be able to shift their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion to which­ever com­pany they chose, in what is called “data porta­bil­ity”. How­ever, the re­searchers said that in their study, this was “not yet ac­tion­able”. Sarah Turner, one of the au­thors of the re­port, said there were very few ex­cep­tions to when users could move data.

The re­port comes as Brus­sels weighs up whether to take firmer ac­tion on an­ti­com­pet­i­tive prac­tices in smart de­vices. Ama­zon de­clined to com­ment, while Google did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

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