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ACM: consumers are entitled to information before buying smart devices

26-11-2019

Consumers who purchase smart devices should receive information about update policies from the manufacturer or the seller prior to the purchase. Smart devices are devices that are connected to the Internet, and consequently offer additional options. In the coming months, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) will check whether sellers of smart devices comply with this rule. If they do not, ACM will reprimand them. Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, comments: “It is crucial that consumers are informed about software updates, especially with smart devices. Consumers will then know how long their devices should last and be used safely. We believe it is important that consumers are able to use smart devices with confidence. That is why ACM will pay extra attention to this rule over the next few months.”

What are smart devices?

More and more devices that consumers use are connected to the Internet. This allows them to offer applications that other devices cannot. Such devices are referred to as ‘smart’ devices. Examples include: wireless speakers with which you can ‘stream’ your favorite music from any source anywhere in your home, children’s dolls that recognize who is talking to them (and then give answers), digital assistants that can execute tasks prompted by voice commands, and also smart thermostats or smartphones. All of these devices use software and the Internet in order to be able to offer these functionalities. These devices are connected to each other through the Internet of Things (IoT).

Prior to the purchase, consumers must receive information about what the device’s functionalities and price are, but also information about updates that ensure the device’s security and operability. Consumers will then be able to take this information into consideration when making their purchasing decisions. After all, if no updates are ‘supplied’, it could mean that the device will become inoperable and/or unsecured within the foreseeable future.

Consumer protection rules

When purchasing products or services, consumers must receive, prior to the purchase, all of the relevant information about the product’s or service’s main characteristics. ACM invites consumers to share their experiences with purchasing such ‘smart’ devices. Does a manufacturer or retailer not provide any information about their update policies? Please report this to ACM ConsuWijzer. Over the next few months, ACM will check whether manufacturers and sellers of smart devices properly provide this information. If they do not, ACM will reprimand them, and may even impose a fine.