It’s the time of year when you need to need to think about gifts. The holidays are almost upon us, companies are putting out new, shiny toys that will be perfect for the special someone in your life. But please, please do not buy presents for people that could spy on them.
This week, Australia’s Information Commissioner Angelene Falk put out a warning for some of the common pitfalls and scams when shopping during the holiday season.
Among reminders was a directive to be careful about where you put your personal information when shopping online, buying from reputable stores and watching out for obvious attempts to swindle you out of your money.
But importantly, the Commissioner reminded people not to give people something that will unwittingly surveil them, in not so many words.
“While smart devices can be convenient, they can also collect and share your personal information. Before you buy, research the product’s security and privacy credentials,” the Comissioner’s statement reads.
She’s right. When they’re actually working, some smart devices are transmit information about their users back to the mothership. Audio assistants pick up private conversations, smart door bells know who’s visiting your home and fitness devices can tell companies about your lifestyle.
And that’s just their intended uses! Smart devices are the targets of enterprising hackers who want to take advantage of poorly designed products. There’s even been examples of children’s toys being hacked so strangers can watch children.
Gifting someone a present that’s thoughtful also means being considerate of how it’s going to impact their life. Sacrificing their privacy without them knowing is pretty poor form.
And, in the circumstance that you do want to get something like this, it’s worth checking to see how concerned they are about their privacy.
Generally speaking, friends don’t buy friends Christmas presents could maybe spy on them and their families.