Privacy not included: How creepy is your connected Christmas present?

·2-min read
When it comes to privacy, Mozilla's guide can help you choose safer, more secure connected products.
When it comes to privacy, Mozilla's guide can help you choose safer, more secure connected products.

As the holiday season approaches, the Mozilla Foundation has published a guide to help shoppers choose safe, secure connected products when it comes to protecting privacy, and to steer clear of the "creepiest" gadgets. While Apple comes off relatively well on privacy, that's not necessarily the case for Amazon and Facebook.

Before buying a smart speaker, a fitness tracker or a smart pet food dispenser, you might want to check how much that new device will respect your privacy and how vulnerable it might be to security breaches and hacks. In fact, many products connected to the internet have microphones and/or cameras, which could encroach upon the private lives of their users if they aren't set up properly.

Of the 136 products reviewed by the Mozilla Foundation in the 2020 edition of "Privacy Not Included," 40 were considered to pose a real risk to user privacy. This is notably the case of the Facebook Portal assistant and the Fossil Gen 5 smartwatch. Moreover, around 20 of those products failed to ensure Mozilla's minimum security standards, with offenders including the Hamilton Beach smart coffee maker and the Schlage Sense smart deadbolt. Mozilla even considers Amazon's Halo fitness tracker and the Roku Streambar & Soundbar to be "nightmares" in terms of privacy, with personal data clearly being shared with advertisers and other third parties.

At the opposite end of the scale, 22 products feature in Mozilla's "best of" selection, meeting with strict privacy and security criteria. These include Kano coding kits, the Sonos One SL speaker, the Withings Body smart scales and the iRobot Roomba i Series vacuum cleaner. Mozilla points out, for example, that Eufy security cameras are particularly reliable, as footage is encrypted and stored locally rather than in the cloud. Apple -- with its iPad, Watch and Homepod -- also comes off well in the guide, since the American tech firm neither shares nor sells personal data.

The 2020 edition of Mozilla's "Privacy Not Included" report features 136 products spanning seven categories: smart home, home office, toys & games, entertainment, wearables, health & exercise and pets.

See the Mozilla Foundation's "Privacy Not Included" guide: foundation.mozilla.org/en/privacynotincluded