When you’re shopping this holiday season you should avoid these gifts, if your privacy is important to you. At first, these seem like some cool and useful gadgets, but in reality, they are collecting and sharing your data with the companies that make them. What’s even more concerning is that these products aren’t just watching your internet browsing but your activity inside your private home.
Facebook Portal is a brand of smart displays developed by Facebook. Portal provides video chat with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp with a camera that can automatically zoom and follow people’s movements. There are four different models including Portal, Portal Plus, Portal Mini and Portal TV. The devices received positive reviews for its handling of video and audio, but when combined with Facebook’s poor privacy practices these devices are concerning.
Ring Indoor Cam and Security Cams
Ring is a line of home security products that includes security cameras, lights, camera doorbells. While these security tools can help keep your home safe, using these products gives Ring access to the footage captured by the devices. It’s unclear whether or not Ring encrypts the data collected from your devices and the company has a poor track record when it comes to dealing with security vulnerabilities.
Amazon Echo Show
Amazon Echo devices are Amazon’s version of smart home devices and smart speakers. These devices give you access to Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, but also give Amazon a look inside your home and your behavior. Amazon will use this data to further understand your interests and lifestyle to advertise products specifically to you.
Google Home sounds like the home of the future. It allows you to sync your door locks, light bulbs, and many other products in your home to control them from your phone. However, it also lets Google collect information about your conversations and other sounds in your home. Google plans to use this data combined with artificial intelligence to determine the layout of your house using the sound data it collects.
Ancestry.com or 23andMe
DNA Analysis kits give you information about your ancestors and diseases you’re at risk for, providing great value to the people that buy them. However, these tools also give the companies behind them access to your otherwise private health data. These companies can then sell your personal information to other companies. If you’ve sent your DNA to any of these companies, law enforcement can subpoena them to access your genetic information.