Giving someone a gift is a thoughtful way to show your appreciation, but what if that gift is spying on you?
Many popular gifts this Christmas season come with built-in privacy risks. For example, many new smart TVs are equipped with voice recognition features that allow the TV to be controlled by voice commands. However, these features also allow the TV to record and store conversations that take place in the room.
In Germany, Radio Hamburg has recently published a list of devices that have been reported as being controllable by third parties. It includes the Amazon Echo, the Apple iPhone and iPad, the Samsung Smart TV, as well as the Google Home Mini. The problem is that these devices are always listening. They are constantly waiting for their owners to give them a voice command. And they are not just listening for a few seconds or minutes. According to Amazon, the Echo can be triggered to start recording and transmitting data to the company up to 24 hours after it was last activated.
Apple, Samsung and Google all claim that they do not access or use the data that their devices record without the explicit consent of their owners. However, these companies also reserve the right to do so in their terms and conditions. So if you have not read and agreed to these conditions, you are not actually giving your consent.
It’s important to be aware of these risks before you buy a gift this Christmas. Here are some tips for assessing the privacy risks of popular gifts:
That information may seem boring, but you’ll want to find out if the product shares its data with other companies or government organizations. Even innocuous-seeming products like cameras and printers can be connected to the Internet and collect sensitive data about you. Other devices like smart meters and home assistants can share what time you come and go from your house, what appliances you use and when, even your conversations.
Check if the product has a ‘return’ policy. What happens to your data after you put it onto this device? That might depend on whether or not the company has a “return” policy for your data. If you’re thinking of returning the product, you may want to ask the company what will happen to your data. Will it be deleted? Will it be shared with other companies? If you’re not sure, call the company’s customer service number.
Look For Features That Record Or Track
Many products come with features that track or record your activity. If you don’t want your activities to be tracked, look for products without these features.
When assessing a product’s privacy risks, consider what information the product collects and how that information is used. For example, a fitness tracker might collect your heart rate and steps taken, while a smart TV might collect viewing habits and contact information. Some products send data to third parties, such as advertisers or data brokers. Consider opting out or avoiding products that track you.
It’s often not possible to opt out of all data collection by the product’s manufacturer, but you might be able to choose not to use it with its default settings. Turn off any tracking features, such as geofencing and location tracking, when they’re not needed.
Ask About Privacy Features
If you’re worried about a gift’s privacy implications, the first thing to do is ask the manufacturer or seller about the product’s privacy features. Many devices include settings that allow you to customize how much data the device collects and shares.
For instance, if you buy a new smart TV, you may be able to disable the device’s voice recognition features or opt out of sharing your viewing habits with advertisers. If you’re giving a wearable device like a Fitbit, ask about the privacy settings for that device before you buy it.
Use A VPN
If you’re concerned about the privacy of your data, consider using a VPN. A VPN encrypts your internet connection and masks your IP address, which will prevent the seller from tracking your activities.
In general, if you’re concerned about a product’s privacy risks, do more research online before making a purchase. This will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy the product. If you’re not sure whether a product is safe, look for products without features that track your activity.
A VPN encrypts your data and routes it through a secure server, making it difficult for anyone to spy on what you do and where you go online. As well as keeping your data secure, a VPN will also let you access geo-restricted content. This is because it lets you spoof your location by hiding your real IP address, making websites think that you are in another country.
A VPN will also help to keep you secure while using public Wi-Fi networks, such as those found in coffee shops and other public places. This is because it encrypts your data, making it impossible for hackers to access your information
So, if you are worried about the privacy risks of your Christmas present, using a VPN is a good way to protect yourself. However, it is worth noting that not all VPNs are created equal, so you should choose one that is reliable and trustworthy.
Stay safe! For tips on how to protect yourself online, stay tuned into Bayshore Interactives Blog!