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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Linked by Jason Snell

Consumer Reports rates privacy and security

Maybe a sign that things are changing: Consumer Reports will now consider privacy and security important parts of a product:

We think devices that connect to the internet… should require consumers to choose unique usernames and passwords during setup. You can’t create an online bank account without creating a secure password; that should be true for a camera that transmits video from inside your home as well. The new standard also calls on companies to delete consumer data from their servers upon request, to protect personal data with encryption as the data is sent through the internet, and to be completely transparent about how personal consumer information is shared with other companies.

There are only two reasons why the makers of Internet-connected devices would change their ways and take customer privacy and security seriously. One would be government regulations, and at least in the United States that seems unlikely in the near future. The other is the realization that security and privacy are features that customers care about, and that if they don’t take them seriously, their sales will suffer. Consumer Reports taking this seriously—and publicizing when companies fail these tests—could be an important step along the way.