Bystanders’ Privacy: Smart Home Surveillance of Domestic Employees

The expanding use of smart home devices affects not only the privacy of the primary users, but also the privacy of individuals who did not choose to deploy them, and may not even be aware of them. We are conducting a series of studies with populations that are especially likely to be affected by the increasing use of smart home devices, beginning with a study of nannies and of parents who employ nannies. Beginning with domestic workers allows us to look at how IoT data collection plays into or changes existing power dynamics between primary users and others; tease out differences between being a target of and a bystander to smart home data collection (nannies may be both); and examine conflicting contextual expectations when one person’s home is another’s workplace. The findings will support guidelines and recommendations for developers of smart-home devices and for policymakers, as well as public-education materials.

Research goal: Conduct and analyze qualitative interviews and surveys, in order to: describe nannies’ smart home experiences and their privacy attitudes, expectations, and concerns about smart homes; examine interactions with power dynamics; identify potential conflicts in expectations and describe how conflicts are negotiated; and identify potential points of intervention for representing domestic employees’ preferences about smart home data collection.