Sept. 24, 2020
This post is part of a series that aims to assess the Digital Standard by testing the methodology with a few representative smart devices connected to the Internet of Things. You can view and download our full methodology to conduct your own assessments, and read our assessments of other devices as the project continues.
The Digital Standard
In 2018, New America’s Open Technology Institute (OTI) launched a project to educate people about the Digital Standard, a new framework for evaluating the privacy and security of internet-connected consumer products and software. The Standard was developed by a group of organizations, including Ranking Digital Rights, in collaboration with Consumer Reports. Building off this work, we're selecting a few representative products and apps and putting them through the tests that the Digital Standard describes. Our methodology will include exactly how we judged each indicator, including what information was needed in order to measure whether the indicator was met, where we looked for it and where we found it, and how we interpreted the inevitable vagueness and edge cases. Below you'll find information related to the third product in this series: a smart baby monitor.
The Smart Baby Monitor
The product for our third round of Digital Standard testing is a smart baby monitor, which is made by a well-known company that produces a wide variety of consumer electronic devices. The baby monitor consists of three components: a camera, handset, and mobile app. A wifi-connected device containing a camera, microphone, speaker, and thermometer is referred to generally in our tests as the "camera." Additionally, the baby monitor contains a wifi-connected handheld device generally referred to as the "handset" in our testing. The handset displays video and temperature information received from the camera on a screen, plays audio collected by a microphone located in the camera through a speaker, and contains a microphone which it uses to transmit audio back to be played by a speaker in the camera. The speaker in the camera could be used, for example, for a parent to speak to a child from another location in the home. However, the handset has no ability to record any audio or video data collected by the product, it only displays information collected by the camera and the microphone. Finally, the baby monitor interfaces with a mobile app provided by the manufacturer. This app is used to send and receive data to/from this device and from similar baby monitors produced by the same manufacturer. Unlike the handset, which solely transmits and displays information, this app does have the ability to record and store audio and video data collected by the camera. The handset only displays information when it is physically located on the same wifi network as the camera, whereas the app allows users to see and hear audio and video data from any location.
Note: For the purposes of this project, we will not be revealing the manufacturer, service provider, or any other company or product names for the devices we are testing. Our goal is to develop and document a process to implement the Digital Standard, and we feel that publishing specific information about the products we are testing detracts from that process.