You’re probably ordering tons of packages from online retailers this holiday season. It’s a great way to avoid the rush at brick-and-mortar stores, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for thieves to steal your stuff. Tap or click here for a clever way to protect your packages from porch pirates.
‘Tis the season to give gifts to people you care about, and tech is always a popular choice. Who doesn’t like to unwrap a shiny new gadget? But you must be careful.
Many of the hottest holiday items have a Wi-Fi connection, and each company or device has its own privacy policies. It’s no small task to look up each one of the products you buy, but there’s a shortcut you should know about.
The naughty list
Mozilla just released its latest *Privacy Not Included guide, which examined privacy policies of over 75 popular holiday gifts. They’re ranked from “Not creepy” to “Super creepy.” You can vote by sliding the emoji left or right for each entry.
For example, the privacy of the Meta Quest Pro VR headset runs 37,700 words, split into 14 documents. Who is going to go through all that?
Let’s start with the worst of the worst. Note that Facebook and Amazon have multiple entries here.
- Facebook Portal: Facebook has been called out for its privacy policies too many times to count, and here’s a device that provides the social network with eyes and ears into your home. Be sure to check the privacy settings if you plan to use one or gift one.
- Meta Portal: See above. Meta is killing off consumer versions of its Portal devices, but you can still find them on sale.
- Verizon GizmoWatch: This smartwatch is aimed at children who aren’t old enough for a smartphone. It lets parents track their kids’ location, set up a list of trusted contacts for the child to call, set up reminders, track steps and push to-do lists. But do you want any company to have access to that information?
- Eufy Video Smart Lock: You can open this smart lock in a number of ways: Wi-Fi, keypad, fingerprint, Alexa and a physical key. Convenient, but it also increases exposure to crooks. Eufy has had security issues in the past. In June, security experts found three security vulnerabilities in Eufy’s Homebase 2 video storage and management device that could have allowed hackers to take control of the device remotely, reboot your hub or even send your security camera footage to anyone they choose. Eufy has since patched the problems. Tap or click here for our report.
- Amazon Astro Robot: Astro is a household robot on wheels that incorporates Alexa and more artificial intelligence to go beyond a simple smart speaker. It has a built-in microphone and speaker, which you can turn off. Amazon collects information on you for everything you do with its services, from what you buy to which movies you watch. Do you want the retail juggernaut spying on your home too?
Try these instead
Now that you know which items to avoid, here are some better gift options:
- Garmin Fenix: While Garmin does collect data such as sleep, pulse, heart rate and stress, that’s a given when it comes to any fitness tracker. The nice thing is Garmin protects that data. Sharing data with contacts is disabled by default, as is receiving marketing communications from Garmin.
- The Fenix 6 Pro features an always-on display, rugged construction, GPS, built-in sports apps, emergency SOS and more.
- Eufy RoboVacs: Eufy’s line of robot vacuum cleaners doesn’t come with cameras, which is a good thing. They do have AI mapping technology to learn their way around your recipient’s home, however. Data is sent back to Eufy, which the company uses for targeted ads.
- Your best bet is a “dumb” robot vacuum like the 11S Max, which doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi. It’s great for carpets, wood floors and pet hair.
- Pocketbook: Pocketbook eReaders support a number of different formats, so your recipient isn’t tied to Amazon for eBooks. And we know how much data Amazon collects. Pocketbook says that it does not collect any personally identifiable information. Wow!
- The PocketBook Touch Lux 5 closely simulates printed pages and has an adjustable front light and expandable storage.
- The Jabra Elite 85h wireless headphones feature multiple microphones for calls, noise canceling, smart assistant integration and 36-hour battery life.
- This Sonos One SL bundle has two speakers to fill multiple rooms with tunes. Stream sound directly from an iPhone or iPad and ask Siri to play Apple Music.
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