What the Tech? Creepy gadgets | What The Tech?

Tech gadgets are expected to be a top seller again this holiday season, and if you’re planning to buy one for someone, you may be buying something that spies on them.

Creepy gadgets are out there, ranging from children’s toys to smart home devices.

Doorbells, Echo devices, Google assistants, security cameras…if you’re thinking of getting or gifting one of these smart gadgets, you’d be smart to dig into the privacy policies before placing the order. Not many people do that. We choose convenience over risk.

Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, has released a buyer’s guide, looking specifically at the privacy and security about the tech gadgets on Christmas gift lists.

For example, a Roku streaming device collects information on what you watch and shares it with advertisers who can target you with ads. “Privacy Not Included” also notes that Consumer Reports found that Roku was vulnerable to hacking back in 2018. You can read all of this in the Privacy Not Included website, and see how others feel about the product and where it stands on the “creep-o-meter.”

Ring security cameras get a bad grade because the company has a history of being fast and loose with customer data. Mozilla notes it tracks location, can snoop on users through the camera and microphone, and local law enforcement has access to active Ring cameras via the neighbor’s app. Over half of users say the security cameras are “super creepy.”

What could be creepy about a coffee maker? This Atomi smart coffee maker works with Alexa. Mozilla notes the app that comes with it accesses your phone’s camera and microphone and tracks your location. Mozilla has concerns about its privacy policy. About 66% of users say that’s “super creepy.”

No surprise, just about everything Amazon gets the “privacy not included” label.

Mozilla has been providing this buyer’s guide for three years. There are 136 products listed, from toys to cameras to appliances to litter boxes. It isn’t a product review site but a privacy review site, and a good place to check before buying a connected gadget.

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