I-TEAM: Many of your favorite tech products have non-consumer friendly privacy policies that you may not know about

Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 4:10 PM EST
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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – Tech is taking over our lives. From the smartphone to home security – all gadgets are being geared toward you, your kid, and even your pet.

But some of those time saving hacks with these devices are constantly coming at an even bigger cost.

We’ve found the creepiest gadgets spying on you are devices with household names. So, we ranked the bad to the worst, including devices targeted at your children.

Sarah Rees, a cybersecurity expert, says the line of what's too far differs from person to person.

“If they can spy on your dog, they can spy on you,” Rees said.

Coming in at No. 5 on our list is a tie: Amazon's Alexa and Google Home.

Not only are advertisers using your data to target you with ads, but we found German researchers were able to hack into both and steal your passwords through third party apps.

At No. 4 is the Nest camera. So you've got all the problems we've already mentioned made worse with a camera watching your house and even your children 24/7.

No. 3 is Facebook Portal. Much like the other gadgets, Facebook wants a piece of the smart home pie. But remember this assistant is backed by Facebook -- a company with a terrible history of protecting your privacy. Talk about risky.

No. 2 is all Ring products. From cameras to security systems and the infamous Ring doorbell, a previous I-Team investigation showed you how hackers recently taunted small children through Ring's cameras. Ring is also owned by Amazon. And your video and voice recordings can be stored to a cloud that Amazon employees have access too if you don't change your privacy setting. That, coupled with the hacker history, makes Ring a risk, too.

I think you need to look at things like what could happen, what's the worst case scenario if it has a camera on it, then you have to know the worst case scenario is someone can see you and see everything through that camera,” Rees said. “If it has a two-way speaker on it, someone can hear you and talk to you and we've seen that happen.”

But the worst we found was something you may not have heard of: a kids’ toy. Meet the Artie 3000 Coding Robot from Educational Insights. It's super creepy because it's sold to parents and educators as an educational tool to help kids learn how to write computer codes. But it also has built-in WiFi, making you vulnerable to hackers. We found it also doesn't require a password at all to work, but Rees says we as consumers have to take responsibility for what we are allowing, knowingly or unknowingly.

“A lot of us just click accept to terms of service and that’s one of those things where I don't know that it’s fair to complain how creepy something is and sharing your information if you accepted to those terms,” Rees said.

Making the fact you need to do your own homework for every tech gadget all the more important.

They have dozens of more devices listed, from yes, creepy, but also to really safe.

We went through the bad ones, but what about the good ones?

For instance, the Nintendo Switch, Sonos speakers, and a Star Wars and Harry Potter coding kit for kids all god top marks for protecting you.

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