Buying someone a gadget is a time-honored tradition, but these days it can be particularly fraught, considering you may buy them a fitness tracker that also monitors emotions, or a doorbell that snitches to the cops. Mozilla has put together a helpful list of popular gadgets with ratings on just how creepy they are.
“Privacy not included” has become an annual tradition for the internet rights advocate, and this year has an especially solid crop of creepy devices, given the uptick in smart speakers, smart security cameras and smart litterboxes.
On the “creepy” end of the spectrum is… pretty much everything by Amazon except the Kindle. The devices in question send tons of data to Amazon by design, of course, but Mozilla feels the company hasn’t yet earned the trust to make that sort of thing acceptable. Facebook’s Portal earns a creepy spot for a similar reason.
Some random gadgets like a smart coffee maker and Moleskine smart notebook get creepy ratings because they don’t give the kinds of assurances about data and security that any company collecting that information should give. That sort of thing is common in smart gadgets — they may not be fundamentally creepy, but the company that makes them reserves the right to make it creepy at any time.
On the other end of the spectrum, Withings earns points for its smart devices with reasonable privacy policies and security. Non-Ring smart doorbells get good marks, and Garmin’s smart watches too.
These are informal rankings based on the potential for abuse or exposure of your data, and it doesn’t mean that they’re perfectly safe or private. If you’re buying one of these things, it’s best to immediately go through the settings and preferences and disable anything that smells invasive or creepy. You can always enable features again, but once you’ve put your data out there, it’s hard to get it back.