Mozilla has updated its Privacy Not Included guide to pinpoint a list of “Creepy” products. It is something you might want to check-out before buying that Christmas gift. Xiaomi Mi Band 6, Amazfit products and Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 are called out for privacy issues. At the other end of the scale are Apple and Garmin watches – they are flagged as amongst the best on this count.
Privacy and security of data
It is important to note, privacy should not be confused with security. The two terms are similar but privacy is more to do with the way your data is used and if it is sold on to third parties. Security is about preventing unauthorised access. And most people will remember the 5 days of Garmin server outage due to a cyber attack a while ago. It’s kind of hard to forget… That is to do with Security.
Mozilla is the non-profit organization behind the Firefox browser. They describe their mission as working to “ensure the internet remains a public resource that is open and accessible to all.”
Mozilla recommends avoiding these products
The company has a list of what it calls creepy products which it updates occasionally. The latest refresh comes in time for last-minute Christmas shopping. The company says it took roughly 1,000 hours of research to come up with their guide.
Here’s a list of wearables that collect a large quantity of user data of various kinds. If you want to avoid a privacy nightmare, you might want to think twice before purchasing them.
- Unsurprisingly, the first on this list is the Amazon Halo Band. Mozilla says that Amazon has taken creepy to a whole new level with its release just over a year ago. Not only does it have the option to listen to and analyze what you are saying, but you are also meant to upload pictures of yourself with little clothing on for body fat analysis.
- Another Amazon product, Echo Frames are also rated as “Super Creepy”. The smart specs come with two microphones and four micro speakers so you can communicate with Alexa. Questions here arise about others listening to Alexa responses and the microphones picking up on the voices of people around you.
- Snap Spectacles 4.0. These specs come with a touchpad, two cameras, and four microphones. All of this allows you to photo and video the world (and people) around you. Some might even say they make it easy to secretly film people!
- Ray-Ban Facebook Stories. Smart glasses are definitely not faring very well on the privacy list. According to Mozilla, another creepy product are the recently released Ray-Ban Facebook Stories. Once again, the built in microphones and cameras can record what you’re seeing and hearing. The problem is not so much the glasses, but Facebook’s poor record when it comes to respecting people’s privacy.
- Xiaomi Mi Band 6. With millions of these devices sold globally, this is one of the most popular budget fitness bands in the world. The issue here is Xiaomi, the parent company of Mi. They were recently caught secretly collecting data on some users. So there’s the danger that your personal information may be shared with any number of Xiaomi affiliate companies.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 tracks a lot of information. The main issue here is that Samsung may share your data with their business affiliates. This info can in turn be used to make predictions about your interests and fling targeted ads your way.
Other products that do not fit the wearable category that Mozilla suggests avoiding include the Facebook Portal, HER app, Amazon Smart Thermostat, WeChat and Facebook Messenger. These present the highest risk to consumers.
It is not all gloom and doom! There’s some good news for Apple and Garmin watch owners. Mozilla uses them as an examples of the best wearable tech companies when it comes to handling privacy. Little danger of Garmin or Apple using or selling your data for marketing purposes.
Mozilla has called out Samsung watches before
While the Xiaomi and Amazfit products are new entrants on the list, Samsung watches have been flagged for privacy issues for a while now. The reason stays the same. Despite all the health and fitness benefits of wearing the Galaxy Watches, Samsung collects and potentially sells your personal health data to consumer data resellers.
So let’s say the device on your wrist figures out you are not sleeping well and potentially have insomnia. Don’t be surprised if you see an advertisement or two with ads for sleeping pills on your Smart TV, for example.
Check out the Samsung Ads Privacy Notice and you’ll notice that the fear may be justified. It’s worth noting – the Privacy Notice page doesn’t mention watches specifically.
“The Service provides Customized Ads by using unique, randomized, non-persistent, and resettable device identifiers, known as “Advertising ID” on Samsung mobile devices and “PSID” on Samsung Smart TVs.” it reads.
The company says info about you that is collected may be used to “provide you with Customized Ads about products and services tailored to your individual interests.” And adds that it may share the data with their “subsidiaries, affiliates, service providers, and business partners”.
Essential reading: Best fitness trackers and health gadgets
Samsung points out that you can opt out of Customized Ads. But that doing so “may not prevent the delivery of all advertisements from Samsung, including tailored advertisements provided by other Samsung services. “
Super creepy or not creepy? You be the judge.
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