Let’s be real. Most of us don’t read the privacy policies when signing up to use a service. If you wanted to read all of the terms you’ve agreed to, find a comfortable spot because it could take up to 25 days (!!!!) to finish. No one has time for that, and some companies are counting on it.
Yet, buried deep in all the legal jargon are key bits of personal information that we might not want companies to have. By skipping past this information, we could be agreeing to anything from our first born child for a fake social media site to the literal shirt off our backs to win an iPad.
That’s why we read a handful of privacy policies from popular services you might use this busy travel season to see what kind of data they collect. Take a look at what you’re agreeing to:
Whether you’re traveling home or to a new destination, chances are someone in your group will need accommodations. Booking through popular hotel chains like Hilton could mean giving up a lot of personal information:
“We collect personal information at every touch point or guest interaction, and in conducting every aspect of our business (including) personal characteristics, nationality, income, passport number and date and place of issue (…)”
We may also share personal information with select third parties, such as our airline and payment card partners, to allow us and our partners to deliver advertisements to our shared and prospective customers.
A company like Hilton might use this information to personalize your stay but they can also share this with business partners to serve you ads.
Listening to music and podcasts
If you’re like us, you’ll be downloading your favorite playlist or podcast to listen on upcoming flights. That’s why we were surprised to learn that while we listen, our movements could potentially be tracked…literally.
….“Motion-generated or orientation-generated mobile sensor data (e.g. accelerometer or gyroscope) required for the purposes of providing specific features of the Spotify service to you”
Services like Spotify want to know if you’re walking, running or standing still to provide music recommendations based on these movements. Yet, the information could be shared with other partners, so the idea of giving away your every move is still pretty creepy.
Ringing a smart doorbell
Make sure to say “Cheese!” when you visit a home with a smart doorbell because you’re definitely being recorded. Services like Ring, owned by Amazon, save recordings from every visitor from the delivery person to adorable trick-or-treaters.
“We obtain content (and related information) that is captured and recorded when using our products and services, such as video or audio recordings, live video or audio streams, images, comments, and data our products collect from their surrounding environment to perform their functions (….)”
“We recognize the importance of protecting children’s online privacy. Ring’s products and services are intended for a general audience and are not directed to children. We do not knowingly collect personal information online from children under the age of 13.”
Even though they don’t specifically target their products to children, this doesn’t doesn’t prevent Ring from capturing and recording them. This is something to keep in mind next time you ring on a smart doorbell.
Pitching in for a gift
Did you chip in for someone’s gift this year? Or just splitting the bill with your family? Unless you change your default settings, Venmo makes all of those transactions public.
“The types of personal information we collect and share depend on the product or service you have with us. This information can include: social security number and account balances, payment history or transaction history, credit history or credit scores. When you are no longer a customer, we continue to share your information as described in this notice.”
Depending on the services you use the app for, Venmo’s parent company, PayPal, can also access sensitive information like your social security number and credit scores. Not to mention public financial transactions can leave you vulnerable to scammers, so definitely make sure you’re setting those to private.
A healthy internet means being empowered to make informed choices about what we share online and understanding the trade-offs we make when we do. Firefox data policies are simple: we tell you what data do collect in easily understandable language and give you choices to opt-out of, and we work to keep your data safe, never sold.
Firefox Personal Data Promise is stamped across the whole Firefox family of products and services. (Yep, we’re more than a browser.) Everything we make is designed to keep you safer and smarter online — and get around the abuses of Big Tech while you’re at it. And every single product honors your privacy by default.
You have the right to own your life — and your data.
Originally published at The Firefox Frontier.