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Yikes! 10 tech gadgets that play fast and loose with your privacy

As more data breaches occur, a huge focus has once again been thrust on privacy and protecting your personal information. You can take steps to secure your data, but a surprisingly large number of devices don’t afford you the option.

Unless you go digging through the technical specifications and schematics, there is really no way for you to be sure that your virtual assistant isn’t listening or the children’s toy microphone isn’t recording all the time.

Don’t worry. We’re here to help. Keep reading to see 10 tech gadgets that are serious privacy risks.

Here’s the backstory

Because it is difficult for consumers to know what is electronically spying on them, the Mozilla Foundation created the *privacy not included website. The aim is to guide consumers in shopping for safe and secure connected devices.

The Foundation releases an annual list highlighting products that could be the most harmful to your privacy. For the rest of the year, the website spans several categories that visitors can browse through. Clicking on a product, you’ll see the dangers involved, answers to common questions and a community rank.

Here are some of the biggest offenders and how they put your privacy at risk.

1. Schlage Encode Smart Wi-Fi Deadbolt

This Wi-Fi-connected door lock allows you to grant someone access to your home remotely.

  • The app tracks your location
  • Requires an email address to sign up
  • Collects your name, email address and phone number
  • Schlage may disclose your personal information with third parties for marketing purposes

2. SpotOn Fence

SpotOn’s Fence is a GPS collar for your dog that zaps it with an electric pulse if it crosses the boundary.

  • Tracks your dog’s location, and by default, your home address
  • Requires an email address to sign up
  • Collects your email address, phone number, and name
  • Requires a third-party account to sign up
  • Accesses your mobile device’s data

3. Atomi Smart Coffee Maker

This device is a Wi-Fi-connected coffee maker, allowing you to brew a cup from your bed.

  • The app tracks your location
  • The app has access to your phone’s camera and microphone
  • Requires an email address to sign up
  • Collects voice recordings through Amazon
  • Might provide your data to third parties

4. Furbo Dog Camera with Dog Nanny

This device is an HD camera with two-way audio so that you can check up on your little furry friend when you aren’t home.

  • May share your personal details with third parties
  • App has access to your location, camera and microphone
  • Requires an email address to sign up
  • Collects your phone number and address

5. Amazon Halo

The fitness band by Amazon is an activity tracker with no display and uses machine learning to help understand you.

  • The app has access to your camera
  • The device has access to your microphone
  • It tracks your location
  • Collects your name, email address and phone number
  • Collects your biometric information like voice profile, body composition and menstrual cycle

6. Facebook Portal

The social media giant’s Portal is a smart display primarily used with Facebook to communicate with friends.

  • The device has access to your location, camera and microphone
  • Facebook or WhatsApp account is required
  • Voice clips are recorded and sent to Facebook
  • Uses data for targeted ads
  • Can provide your data to third parties

7. Roku Streaming Sticks

Roku’s slimmest device allows you access to streaming services on televisions that don’t have Wi-Fi capabilities.

  • Device and app have access to your microphone
  • Tracks your location
  • Collects your name, phone number, address and viewing habits
  • Roku shares your personal data with advertisers

8. Dogness iPet Robot

This device is a Wi-Fi-connected toy with a built-in camera and microphone.

  • The app and devices have access to your camera and microphone
  • The app tracks your location
  • Requires an email address and phone number to sign up
  • The company had a data breach last year

9. Huawei Honor Band 5

A popular fitness band that tracks your vital signs like heart rate, blood oxygen levels and sleep.

  • The app has access to your camera, microphone and location
  • Collects your name, email address and phone number
  • Tracks biometrics like heart rate, movement, sleep data and menstrual cycle
  • Huawei has been indicted for corporate espionage in the U.S.

10. Kobo eReaders

A popular eBook reader from the Canadian-based company Kobo, which is an alternative to Amazon’s Kindle.

  • Requires an email address to sign up
  • May provide your details to third parties
  • It can share your info with service providers, business partners or affiliates
  • Collects your name, email address, gender and date of birth

Keep reading

Over a billion pharmacy records exposed – What it means for your privacy

Tech fails! 7 devices and companies we can’t believe got the green light