Privacy Not Included
A buyer's guide from the Mozilla Foundation evaluating the privacy and security of popular IoT products.
Ongoing since 2017
The project overview
Privacy Not Included is a digital buyer’s guide created and produced by Mozilla that rates popular IoT products based on their security, safety, and privacy standards. With more household products becoming internet-friendly, Mozilla created the guide to address the privacy concerns associated with these devices. While Amazon and similar sites offers reviews of products—they lack focus around safety and privacy measures.
"Manufacturers are embedding microphones, cameras and GPS into toys and gadgets, and the results can be frightening."
Ashley Boyd, VP of Advocacy
Opinion piece for the New York Times in 2017
The problem space
Mozilla wanted to encourage our audience to take ownership of their safety online by providing them with information to feel empowered when thinking of purchasing these products. It was also important to encourage consumers to demand better privacy from companies producing insecure products.
As connected devices are available around the world, we conducted a survey with over 190,000 respondents from many different countries. We wanted to know: "How connected are you?"
of Americans are concerned about their personal information being shared with companies
of email respondents said they don't know that much about artificial intelligence
of Americans are using video call apps for work and personal use—many are newcomers
of email respondents believe manufacturers should be responsible for making devices private and secure
Reaching new audiences
According to a Pew Research Center survey, 40% of U.S. adults check online review of products when buying gifts, and 47% of 30-49 year olds will check reviews before purchasing something for the first time.
Mozilla’s existing audience is primarily tech driven, privacy conscious, and Firefox users—but one of our objectives during 2017 (that has now continued into 2020) was to begin speaking to new audiences in order to diversify our reach. As an organization that strives to protect users in their online lives, we realized that we needed to expand who we were speaking to in order to crowdsource global change and establish collective understanding around healthy tech-related policies.
1. Create a buyer’s guide reviewing the latest and most popular IoT products.
2. Provide consumers of IoT products with the pros and cons around digital privacy and safety while encouraging them to hold companies accountable for making secure products.
3. Continue to establish Mozilla as a beacon for digital knowledge, safety, and privacy information online.
Based on survey findings and the considerations from the new audiences we wanted to engage with—myself and the team began brainstorming ideas for what the Buyer's Guide could be. Our content team narrowed down and defined what areas the standards we were to include along with the refinement of the main top level product categories including Toys & Games, Smart Home, Entertainment, Wearables, Health & Exercise, and Pets.
Many buyers guides exist—but few provided information about the digital safety, security, and privacy of each product. We wanted to create a guide that could evaluate the product from a lens of digital safety without bias. It was also important to refine and decide which products (and which safety aspects of them) we were going to review.
For the Privacy Not Included site, I drafted the information architecture. To have consistency across all the Mozilla platforms, we maintained the UX library Mozilla header navigation and created a sub-navigation level with each of the product category pages.
Since 2017, the Buyer's Guide has been continuously updated to improve the user experience, readability, usability, and include the most up-to-date products, information, and privacy policies. For the most part, the initial wireframes and design have remained the same with primary updates to the interface.
The latest version from this year provided a landing page with an overview of all the included products, along with a navigation showcasing each of the product categories, and individual item product pages that provide detailed information related to the safety and privacy of internet connected devices.
The landing page
The Privacy Not Included landing page provides an overview of all the products we reviewed. The devices are organized from 'not creepy' to 'creepy.'
Improved Review Pages
Based on in person user testing, we discovered that many people wanted to be able to provide input and offer their emotional connection and review to the products.
While some devices did pass Mozilla's formal privacy review, there was still brand distrust from users—so we implemented a 'creep-o-meter' and a 'how likely are you to buy it?' section.
The Minimum Security Standards badge
With the latest update to the Privacy Not Included site, we added a 'Minimum Security Standards' badge in order for readers to easily scan and see which products meet Mozilla privacy standards.
Three years after the launch of Privacy Not included, the Mozilla Foundation saw significant jumps in our measurable categories:
- Our yearly user base for the guide reached 1.2 million people—a 38% increase from previous years and the largest of any Mozilla Foundation site
- People's Voice Webby Award Winner
Learnings and next steps
- User feedback has been positive and there seems to be a strong desire for reviews focused around privacy—and not solely performance
- At the end of 2020, we will be implementing updates to the 'Minimum Security Standards' badge and the product privacy criteria.
- We will also be adding search functionality and filters so users are able to search for specific products that they may be interested in.