Creepiest Tech Guide of 2020 – Activity Trackers, Wireless Headphones, Smart Speakers, OMG!

By B.N. Frank

For many years experts have warned about privacy AND cybersecurity risks associated with “Smart” (see 1, 2, 3), wireless, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices and technology (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Thanks to Mozilla for publishing their 2020 guide to help you determine which products are too invasive for your comfort level. Hint: if privacy matters to you even the slightest – completely avoid Amazon’s new Halo health band.

Why We Made This Guide

Welcome to the fourth edition of Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included buyer’s guide. Our goal is to help you shop smart—and safe—for products that connect to the internet.

In 2017, when we first started *Privacy Not Included, we didn’t know if people would be interested in a guide about the privacy and security of connected toys, gadgets, and smart home products. Turns out, they were. And it wasn’t just people who were interested. We discovered companies were too. We’re happy to see both consumers and companies increasingly value connected products that are safe, secure, and private.

What can you expect in *Privacy Not Included this year?

Our *Privacy Not Included warning label

We’re very excited our *Privacy Not Included buyer’s guide now comes with *Privacy Not Included warning labels on products we think consumers should think twice about before buying. It’s no small thing to assign such a label to a product, so we set ourselves some strict standards. If we can’t confirm a product meets our Minimum Security Standards it automatically earns the label. We also factor in if a product shares or sells your data, doesn’t let you delete your data, or if the company has a poor track record of protecting their users’ data into our decision to assign these warning labels. We hope users will find these warnings useful. We also include a Best Of category now to showcase companies who are doing privacy and security right.

Our Minimum Security Standards

We realize people want to just know which products are safe and which aren’t. We are Mozilla—not a consumer product review company—so we won’t say “Buy this, don’t buy that.” Instead, we used our technical expertise to create a set of Minimum Security Standards we think all products should meet in order to be sold in stores. Those standards include using encryption, automatic security updates, requiring strong passwords, having a system to manage vulnerabilities, and having an accessible privacy policy.

There is a Creep-O-Meter.

We want users of this guide to be able to share their opinion too. It’s important companies, and other consumers, see which products people think are safe, and which products people feel are a bit creepy. So we created our Creep-O-Meter—a user rating on each product—to let folks give their opinion. Companies are paying attention, so let them know if you think their product is creepy or not.

Bigger and better.

Our product list has grown to 136 connected products across seven categories. You’ll notice a lot of research went into this guide. From knowing if the device uses a camera or microphone, or tracks your location or biometric data, to our section laying out what could happen if something goes wrong with a product—we’ve covered a lot of ground. Fortunately, we have great researchers and expertise here at Mozilla to dig into this so you don’t have to. Our researchers combed through privacy policies, reached out to companies with questions about encryption and bug bounty programs, and sifted through product and app specifications. We’ve done our best to make your access to all this research easy to understand.

We hope you use and enjoy this guide to help you think about, shop for, and buy products from companies that show they value privacy and security. We as consumers need to demand that value from the people who build our products. It’s how we’ll start to make the internet, and our lives, a bit safer in this digital world. That is our goal every day here at Mozilla.

Thank you!
The Team at Mozilla

Mozilla fights daily for a healthier internet as a non-profit tech company that puts people before profit. This guide was created by the Mozilla Foundation which relies on donations from people like you to do our work. You can also visit to learn more about our purpose driven products like Firefox and Common Voice.

For any questions about the guide or to offer constructive feedback, please email [email protected]

Additionally unnerving – all “Smart” and wireless products emit harmful electromagnetic radiation (aka “Electrosmog”) which can:

Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives and the following websites: