Is your holiday gift spying on you?

(NC) You might spread more than seasonal cheer by giving someone one of those electronic devices that appear on so many wish lists. That fitness tracker, gaming console or voice assistant might also share their personal information.

Internet-connected devices are popular gift ideas because they can be helpful and fun. But connectivity comes with the risk that the user’s activities may be tracked, measured and analyzed, either by the device’s manufacturer or a service provider, such as a game or app.

This year, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is cautioning shoppers that popular internet-connected gifts can raise privacy issues because they often require users to provide personal information, such as name, age, gender, email address or phone number.

Before picking out such a device, consider the risks. If you are uncomfortable with the amount of personal information something collects and shares, keep shopping for another gift.

Here are some tips for protecting privacy when using internet-connected electronic devices:

  • Turn gadgets off when you don’t need them.
  • Change the default password on any device you buy. Use strong passwords and don’t re-use the same password across multiple devices or services.
  • Create a guest WiFi network just for connected devices to keep them separate from your computers and other more secure devices.

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