Some ‘smart home’ device companies appear to ask for more information from users than necessary and potentially share it with social media companies.
Consumer company Which found some companies appear to be gathering far more data than is needed for their products to function.
The Google thermostat asks for the users’ location and contacts, the LG washing machine asks for date of birth, and the Sony TV tracks viewing habits, to name a few.
Newstalk Tech Correspondent Jess Kelly told Lunchtime Live companies want our data.
“And we couldn't be bothered reading through the 75 terms and conditions that apply to actually assess and make an informed decision,” she said.
“People do want to go in and get the smart device because they think that that is going to have some dramatic benefit for them.
“In some instances, the premise is quite cool – if you get a particularly particular model of smart fridge, you can scan the barcode of the different items that you're putting into your fridge and the fridge or keep track of what's in date and what's out of date.”
While it’s “deadly” in theory, there are some features of the Smart devices that raise Jess’ eyebrows.
“Does the fridge need to know your date of birth and your favourite colour and your star sign?
“I'm always baffled when I sign up to any different account and you see the level of information that they're requiring.”
Jess has also noticed many smart devices that ask for your birthday, address, gender and more don’t have an “opt out option”.
“You have no choice,” she said. “That shouldn’t be happening, and I do think that we still are a little bit blind in terms of when it comes to reading the terms and conditions.
“This hasn’t happened, but if these companies were to be hacked in the future, or if there was to be a data breach, every single person will be banging the table going, ‘It's outrageous, why do they have all this information?’.
“The answer is because you handed it over.”
Having sophisticated machines that can track energy usage, data consumption and water use is “very beneficial”, according to Jess – but users should still think about whether your washing machine needs to know your gender.
“They can't offer a service and say it's a quid pro quo and you have to give all this information,” she said.
“They may need you know an email address to verify the identity and that's fine because that's functional.
“But when it gets to ridiculous levels of personal data, that makes no sense.”
Jess suggested creating a separate email address solely for the purpose of receiving digital receipts to keep your personal data safe.
“If you can't understand within two minutes as to why a company is asking for a particular level of information, just don't give it to them,” she said.