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A Guide to Privacy Positive Holiday Purchases

Adding a few tech treats to your holiday shopping cart this year? Now is a great time to pause before you purchase to consider the privacy implications of your gifts.

From game consoles and toys to smart home hubs and fitness trackers, the latest gadgets often come with a hidden surprises such as microphones, location tracking, and lax security settings. Ask yourself: Do you really want to give the gift of Big Brother?

This is especially vital if you’re shopping for kids. The Internet of Things (IoT) has unleashed a torrent of low-cost, low-privacy gadgets. Countries like Germany have even banned and encouraged the destruction of such peeping dolls and spying smartwatches.

Use these handy resources to review the privacy and security features of your holiday presents.

Sorry, Parents: *Privacy Not Included

Cleverly riffing on the “*Batteries not Included” messages we lamented as kids, Mozilla has put together a holiday buyer’s guide to slow the sales of snooping gifts. According to their announcement about the website:

“Mozilla’s researchers reviewed dozens of popular toys, game consoles, exercise gadgets, and smart home accessories ranging in price from $25 to $900. We asked critical questions, like: Does this product have privacy controls? Does the company share data with third parties? And does the company claim to obey child-related privacy rules? Our goal: To make products’ privacy and security features as obvious as their price.”

The site is broadly broken down into categories such as “toys, duckies, dolls & more,” “game consoles,” “home hubs,” “smart home accessories,” “gadgets and gizmos,” and “health & exercise.” Within each category are specific devices and plain-language explanations of certain privacy and security issues.

A Good Night to All, and to All a Secure Life

Mozilla isn’t the only one helping you decide if a device is naughty-or-nice for the season. The website A Secure Life recently published “35 Tech Gadgets for Your Privacy-Conscious Friends,” designed to raise your privacy awareness for gifts across a range of budgets.

Much like efforts to help us SEE our privacy choices more clearly, A Secure Life has developed an “at a glance” icon system for quickly grasping which privacy and security warnings to be aware of when evaluating a technology gift:

While the device list is not as comprehensive as Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included, it does provide a concise list of gift ideas with clear indications as to what information you or your recipient will be sharing.

Give the Gift of Privacy Awareness

Sharing these resources is a perfect way to help spread the word about privacy and security with your friends and family. Our collective awareness of how our information is gathered, used, and shared will help us encourage manufacturers to help us protect our right to privacy.

Teaching kids about privacy and security is also a crucial step in ensuring our right to privacy continues to exist in the face of social media and IoT technology. This might begin with changing our own sharing behaviors online while also “having the talk” with kids about privacy and the internet. By raising kids’ privacy awareness we can plant a seed towards a future where we can make more informed privacy choices and use technology more mindfully.

This year, align your wallet and your holiday spirit with your values. Give gifts with privacy in mind.

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