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Beware these spying gadgets this Black Friday

Mozilla Privacy
(Image credit: Mozilla)

A number of the most popular technology items to buy on Black Friday may end up costing you a lot more than you imagined, security experts have said.

The latest Privacy Not Included holiday shopping guide from Mozilla has highlighted how a wide range of tech gadgets and goods are somewhat lacking in privacy protection.

The suspect products include children's toys, fitness trackers and even smart coffee makers from some of the biggest manufacturers around today, showing how many areas of the technology industry still need to up their game when it comes to making sure consumers are protected.

Privacy not included

Mozilla's report reviewed 136 popular connected gifts available for purchase in the United States across seven categories: Toys & Games; Smart Home; Entertainment; Wearables; Health & Exercise; Pets; and Home Office. 

As well as the basic figures, the company's researchers examined the product privacy policies, as well directly surveying companies to answer questions including: "Can this product’s camera, microphone, or GPS snoop on me? What data does the device collect and where does it go? What is the company’s known track record for protecting users’ data?”

Overall, 37 products were branded with a “Privacy Not Included” warning label, including well-known items like Amazon Halo, Dyson Pure Cool, Facebook Portal, Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker, Oculus Quest 2 VR Sets, Ubtech Jimu Robot Kits, and Roku Streaming Sticks.

Amazon, Huawei and Roku were highlighted as particularly troubling, with the former's Halo Fitness Tracker singled out for its use of sensors and microphones, and the latter described as a "privacy nightmare" for its overzealous tracking and sharing of personal data with advertisers and other third parties. 

At the other end of the spectrum, Apple was praised for its privacy protection, with the company's pledge not to share or sell user data, and work to make sure Siri requests stay private, highlighted by Mozilla.

“Holiday gifts are getting ‘smarter’ each year: from watches that collect more and more health data, to drones with GPS, to home security cameras connected to the cloud,” said Ashley Boyd, Mozilla’s Vice President of Advocacy. 

“Unfortunately, these gifts are often getting creepier, too. Poor security standards and privacy practices can mean that your connected gift isn’t bringing joy, but rather prying eyes and security vulnerabilities.”

Mike Moore

Mike Moore is News & Features Editor across both TechRadar Pro and ITProPortal. He has worked as a technology journalist for more than five years, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers. He is interested in hearing about all the latest B2B and B2C news, analysis and opinions, including how companies are using new technology to help forward their work and make their customer's lives easier.