The Mozilla research team has published a sort of reverse holiday gift guide, filled with recommendations not for what to buy, but rather what to avoid. The companies at the top of the list are pretty much exactly what you’d expect.
The annual “privacy not included” gift guide is designed to help keep gift buyers and recipients safe as they consider gifting options for the holiday season. As Mozilla notes, most tech companies prefer obfuscation over transparency when it comes to their privacy protections. You could end up buying your spouse or parents a device that spies on them 24/7, which is not very nice, although the technology itself is useful.
Topping the list: Amazon’s Echo and Ring devices, Peloton’s exercise equipment, and Facebook’s portal and Oculus Quest 2. Mozilla has also included a number of apps on its list, such as Grindr and Tinder.
Mozilla hasn’t had time to consider the privacy options for every piece of technology available today, so the company recommends using its findings as a general guide of brands to consider or avoid. Amazon’s Echo devices all have similar privacy options, for example.
The worst of the worst – Many companies have multiple devices represented on this year’s list, but Amazon leads the competition with an astonishing 15 entries. Many of these are Echo devices, like the Echo Dot Kids Edition, which Mozilla recalls that readers will target children with personalized recommendations and generally follow their habits. Or Ring’s Always Home Camera, which is generally scary and maybe can report your activities to the police.
Both Peloton’s tread and bike are included in the list, and not just because the tread literally cripples kids. Researchers discovered a huge API flaw that allowed anyone to request account data from other users, including age, gender, location, weight, and stats. coaching. Other exercise equipment like NordicTrack’s treadmill has been included on the list to also have really miserable privacy policies, as they will sell your data and force users to agree to be contacted for any purpose. marketing even if they asked to be on a no-call list. Ouch.
Facebook’s portal gets a few mentions, mostly for the way recently-renamed parent company Meta typically collects overwhelming amounts of user data. The same goes for another of its products, the Oculus Quest 2.
Buy wisely this year – Mozilla’s research division has long worked to make the tech world a safer place for consumers, and the Privacy Not Included guide is a really useful addition to that mission. The details in the guide are in-depth and might really help some people think twice about giving away an Echo device or connected treadmill this year.
The very existence of the guide, even if it is not read from cover to cover, is also educational. The fact that Mozilla, an internet company with a fair amount of influence, spends so much time researching, illustrates how delicate the balance between privacy and smart functionality has become.