Privacy for IoT: Informed consent management in Smart Buildings

Privacy for IoT: Informed consent management in Smart Buildings
Chehara Pathmabandu, John Grundy, Mohan Baruwal Chhetri, Zubair Baig
Future Generation Computer Systems, August 2023; 145 pp 367-383
Smart Buildings (SBs) employ the latest IoT technologies to automate building operations and services with the objective of increasing operational efficiency, maximising occupant comfort, and minimising environmental impact. However, these smart devices – mostly cloud-based – can capture and share a variety of sensitive and private data about the occupants, exposing them to various privacy threats. Given the non-intrusive nature of these devices, individuals typically have little or no awareness of the data being collected about them. Even if they do and claim to care about their privacy, they fail to take the necessary steps to safeguard it due to the convenience offered by the IoT devices. This discrepancy between user attitude and actual behaviour is known as the ‘privacy paradox’. To address this tension between data privacy, consent and convenience, this paper proposes a novel solution for informed consent management in shared smart spaces. Our proposed Informed Consent Management Engine (ICME) (a) increases user awareness about the data being collected by the IoT devices in the SB environment, (b) provides fine-grained visibility into privacy conformance and compliance by these devices, and (c) enables informed and confident privacy decision-making, through digital nudging. This study provides a reference architecture for ICME that can be used to implement diverse end-user consent management solutions for smart buildings. A proof-of-concept prototype is also implemented to demonstrate how ICME works in a shared smart workplace. Our proposed solution is validated by conducting expert interviews with 15 highly experienced industry professionals and academic researchers to understand the strengths, limitations, and potential improvements of the proposed system.

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