Pets without PETs: on pet owners’ under-estimation of privacy concerns in pet wearables

Dirk van der Linden, Matthew Edwards, Irit Hadar, Anna Zamansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report on a mixed-method, comparativestudy investigating whether there is a difference betweenprivacy concerns expressed about pet wearables as op-posed to human wearables – and more importantly,why.We extracted the privacy concerns found in product re-views (N=8,038) of pet wearables (activity, location,and dual-function trackers), contrasting the (lack of)concerns and misuse to a curated set of reviews for sim-ilar human-oriented wearables (N=20,431). Our findingsindicate that, while overall very few privacy concerns areexpressed in product reviews, for pet wearables they areexpressed even less, even though consumers use thesedevices in a manner which impacts both personal andbystander privacy. An additional survey of pet owners(N=201) eliciting what factors would cause them to notpurchase (or stop using) pet wearables indicated compa-rably few privacy concerns, strengthening the represen-tativeness of our findings. A thematic analysis revealsthat the lack of privacy concerns may be explained by,among other factors, emotional drivers to purchase thedevice, and prioritization of (desired) functionality tosupport those emotional drivers over privacy require-ments. Moreover, we found that pet wearables are usedin different ways than originally intended, which raisenovel privacy implications to be dealt with. We proposethat in order to move towards more privacy-conscioususe of pet wearables, a combination of understandingconsumer rationale and behavior as well as ensuringdata protection legislation is adequate to real-world useis needed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-164
Number of pages22
JournalProceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Pets without PETs: on pet owners’ under-estimation of privacy concerns in pet wearables'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this