Mozilla's holiday guide rates tech gifts for privacy practices

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better watch out. Your connected gifts will be watching over you.

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Santa isn’t the only one keeping an eye on you this holiday season.


Nearly a third of the 151 popular connected gifts analyzed by the Mozilla Foundation as part of its annual *Privacy not included The digital rights group said on Tuesday that the shopping guide does not meet basic standards for digital security and privacy.

Among the 47 worst offenders on Mozilla’s list: Facebook Portal, Amazon Echo, and NordicTrack Treadmill.

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A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the report, while executives at Amazon and NordicTrack did not respond to emails seeking comment.

In reaching their conclusion, Mozilla researchers analyzed product and app features, and sifted through privacy policies. The team also asked manufacturers about their use of location tracking, data collection and other potentially privacy-violating technologies. The researchers also accounted for each company’s track record in protecting consumer privacy.

“While gadgets are getting smarter, they are also getting creepier and more prone to security lapses and data leaks,” Jane Caltrider, lead researcher on the project, said in a statement.

Mozilla’s fifth-annual report comes amid continued growth in consumer demand for devices ranging from smart speakers and video doorbells to data-tracking fitness equipment and robotic devices that have become popular holiday gifts.

But those tools and services often collect personally identifiable information about their users, which is often later sold to data brokers who use it for targeted advertising.

Not all products reviewed by the Mozilla team were privacy violators. A total of 22 products made Mozilla’s “best of” list for exceptional privacy and security practices. Apple took the title of “least creepy” of big tech companies because it promises not to share or sell consumer data. Garmin got props for protecting privacy in its smartwatches.

Consumers are still being asked to take on a lot of responsibility for protecting their privacy and security, Caltrider said, pointing to some companies requiring people to track complex documents across multiple websites, here. It even begins to figure out how their data is used.

Mozilla dethroned Facebook, which now calls itself Meta, “the creepiest of the big tech companies.” The organization used Facebook’s AI-powered . called upon door Chat treats the device as a particularly bad offender because it regularly sends data back to the company.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant seems to be everywhere, not only in the many products made by Amazon, but also by third-party companies. According to Mozilla, data is often collected by Alexa-powered devices, so even if you tell them not to collect data, such as on your children, some data may still be collected. Mozilla says there’s less surveillance on Alexa Skills, which are voice-controlled apps and features created by third-party companies.

Smart home exercise equipment, which is designed to let consumers work out in the privacy of their homes rather than in the gym, also collects personal data that can be sold or shared.

Mozilla took apart the NordicTrack treadmill. The company behind it reserves the right to sell your data and may collect data from brokers to target you with ads, Mozilla said. It can also call or text your phone number, even if you are on the non-caller list.

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