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Security & privacy

List: The very worst gifts you can give if you care about privacy

Anytime you go online or use a connected device, your privacy is at risk. This isn’t to say you should throw away all your tech and live in a cave, but there are ways to minimize exposure.

Let’s start with your choice of browser. This has a significant impact on your online experience. Many browsers share popular features like dark mode, but when it comes to privacy, you’ll find a greater distinction. Tap or click here for the best privacy-focused browsers, ranked.

Beyond your browser are the devices and gadgets you use every day from companies with their own privacy policy. This ranges from coffeemakers to treadmills to smart speakers. It’s no small task to look up each one of your products, but web developer Mozilla has simplified the process for you.

The list

Mozilla just released the latest edition of its *privacy not included guide, which examined hundreds of products’ privacy policies. They are ranked from “Not creepy” to “Super creepy.” You can even vote on these items yourself.

We won’t list them all, but here are 15 of the worst products on the list. Note that Facebook and Amazon have multiple entries here.

Super and Very creepy

  • 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.
  • Amazon Echo Frames: Smart assistants are useful to carry out smart home tasks and play your music, and these specs let you take Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri wherever you go. While Amazon may not sell your data, it does collect it and uses the information to target you with ads and products. The Echo Frames give the retail juggernaut more opportunity to listen to what you’re saying and doing.
  • Ecovacs Deebot: Smart vacuum cleaners may be cute and useful for cleaning up spots you miss, but when you add cameras and smart assistant compatibility, they can become great tools for spying. Even worse, your personal information is opted-in for sale to third parties by default.
  • Oculus Quest 2: You’ll need a Facebook account to use the Oculus headset, which itself opens you up to Facebook’s nefarious privacy practices. And as with the Portal device, the Oculus gives Facebook greater insight into your private life thanks to the built-in cameras and microphones.
  • Amazon Echo Dot Kids Edition: Here’s a smart speaker and assistant for kids that does the same thing that the regular Echo speakers do — collect data. Again, while Amazon says it does not sell information, it does use it to target its users with ads and products to buy. In this case, the target audience is children.
  • Mi Smart Band 6: The parent company behind this fitness tracker is Xiaomi, which has been caught collecting user data without consent. According to the company’s privacy policy, user data is not sold to third parties but may be shared with them. Xiaomi is a big company with many brands under its umbrella, and your data can be shared with any number of affiliates.
  • DJI Mavic Series: A responsible drone operator does not use their expensive high-tech toy to spy on others. But that same pilot may want to check on their own level of exposure. DJI collects personal data and says it does not sell it, but it may share it with third parties.
  • Amazon Fire TV with Alexa Voice Remote: Amazon’s Fire TV lineup includes a large offering of streaming sticks and TVs, all of which collect data on your browsing, watching and listening habits. With Alexa support, they can hear you as well. Amazon may not directly profit off your data by selling it to others, but it does use it to sell you more products and services from Amazon.
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds: These little devices do what you would expect from a premium pair of earbuds, but Samsung’s privacy policy is murky and opting out is difficult. With Bixby voice assistant support, Samsung can track what you say and what you listen to and use this information to hit you with ads from itself and third parties.
  • Amazon Ring Always Home Cam: This thing is creepy by design: it’s an autonomous flying security camera. Though Amazon owns Ring, the privacy policies are not exactly the same, as Ring uses third-party trackers.
  • Tonal: Working out at home is convenient, and this wall-mounted device tracks your progress to give you ideal workouts. The problem is it also tracks the information and media you upload and share with others. Tonal does not sell this data but admits that it shares it with third parties for advertising purposes.
  • Onyx Books: These eReaders raise red flags right from the start. They are sold by multiple websites, many of which are reseller and scam sites. Buying one on Amazon does not guarantee authenticity either. Worst of all, there is no privacy policy to be found.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tablets: These tablets are well made and versatile, with plenty of models to choose from. The problem is Samsung collects your data and may sell or share it with third parties. Check the privacy settings on all your devices, Samsung or otherwise.
  • Kobo eReaders: Kobo states that it may sell or share your information with third parties for marketing purposes.
  • SoulCycle At-Home Bike: Here’s an exercise machine that offers streaming fitness classes. This means there’s a network connection, which also means your data can be tracked. SoulCycle says it doesn’t “generally sell” your personal information that includes your health data. They do collect and share it, however. And they don’t only source it from your pricey smart bike but also data brokers, social networks and others.

Not creepy

Now that you know which items to avoid, here are some better options:

You can check out the complete *privacy not included list here.

By clicking our links, you’re supporting our research. As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Recommendations are not part of any business incentives.

Keep reading

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