Mozilla has released its annual Privacy Not Included holiday buyers guide, reviewing some more products from a privacy standpoint. The guide lets you know what products to buy and what to avoid if privacy is a priority for you.
Started Mozilla in 2017, the initiative has its own website, which at the time of writing has got over 90 products led. Each of these products has been rated on the basis of privacy, with the ones faring the worst labelled with a “Warning: *privacy not included with this product.” Visitors can also cast their own vote moving a slider between “Not creepy” and “Creepy.”
Meanwhile, the super-popular Amazon Echo Dot speaker is also rated ‘super creepy’ in its data collection, with the Mozilla guide for it suggesting that the device feeds a ton of data about you to Amazon. Stuff like your Alexa search requests, the music you stream, when you turn your lights on and off, your IP address, and your shopping habits are used Amazon to sell you more stuff from its own platform. The e-commerce company proudly states that they are not in the business of selling your information to advertisers, but the truth is that they simply don’t need to – they use it all themselves.
Jen Caltrider, lead researcher for Privacy Not Included says, “it feels like a Rube Goldberg experiment trying to navigate the privacy documentation companies throw at consumers. If I’m struggling to understand this as a privacy researcher, consumers are far worse off. That’s not right.”
The updated Privacy Not Included guide also suggests that acquisitions are bad for privacy. Big tech companies are generally bigger privacy offenders than smaller companies, and when the former acquires the latter, it’s not exactly a win for the privacy of consumers. A good example for this is Google accounts becoming a requirement for Fitbit users following Fitbit’s acquisition.
Mozilla also says that more gadgets are targeting kids, particularly smartwatches. Verizon GizmoWatch, a smartwatch for kids, can even collect your child’s audio and text messages. But GizmoWatch isn’t the only one. All four kids’ products in this year’s guide have been rated poorly.
Not all products are designed to steal your data, though – Mozilla does approve of Garmin smartwatches. The Sonos Smart Speakers also receive a thumbs up thanks to the built-in privacy-friendly voice assant that processes all commands on the device itself.