Topping the Electronic Frontier Foundation's don't-buy for Christmas list: Facebook's Portal in-home spycams, followed closely by Alexa/Google Home and other "home hubs"; Verizon's "AppFlash" spyware-equipped phones; and even the Elf on the Shelf gets a look in (normalizes surveillance!).
There are many, many more products that we could talk about here: smart toys, baby monitors, fitness trackers and more. Overall, there are a few things to think about when you’re looking at buying a smart gift but trying to balance privacy.
Consider carefully what features a product has, and what that means in terms of data collection. Anything with a microphone, for example, can record what you’re saying—and may record something you don’t expect it do, as was the case for one Amazon Echo owner this May. Opting for a smart vacuum also means letting a company like iRobot, maker of the Roomba, map out your house.
Second, use your settings. A new smart device will probably have a lot of sharing options on by default, and set-up is a good time to go through the settings and figure out what you actually want to be exposing to companies and others.
Socks and books aren’t looking so bad now, are they?
The EFF Gift Guide: What’s Creeping Us Out [Hayley Tsukayama/EFF Deeplinks]